The Singapore casino market might not expand beyond its current duopoly, says Robert Goldstein (pictured), chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS).
The United States-based company is the promoter of Marina Bay Sands, one half of the casino duopoly in Singapore, as well as being the parent of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd. The other part of the Singapore casino duopoly is run by Genting Singapore Ltd, via its Resorts World Sentosa property.
“I don’t think Singapore is going to go beyond duopoly, but that’s not my decision,” Mr Goldstein told GGRAsia in an interview in Macau, just before Thursday’s formal launch for The Londoner Macao, a British-themed gaming resort in Macau.
He added, regarding Singapore: “I can’t comment on what the government might do… I just don’t know. I know we’ll be there for many years to come.”
Regarding the possibility of a third licence coming into the market – an idea that had been a subject of speculation previously – Mr Goldstein stated: “I don’t think there’s been any discussion that I know of.”
Singapore’s Casino Control Act 2006, amended and updated in early 2022, says that the Gambling Regulatory Authority must “during the period ending on and including 31 December 2030, ensure that there are not more than two casino licences in force under this Act at any particular time.”
Coinciding with a 2019 statement from the Singapore authorities about the duopoly continuing to 2030, the operators had each pledged to invest SGD4.5 billion (US$3.34 billion currently) in expanding non-gaming facilities at their resorts.
GGRAsia had asked Mr Goldstein about Marina Bay Sands’ presence in that market beyond 2030, in the context of delays for both duopoly operators in executing on their respective pledges.
A March filing by Las Vegas Sands stated the “completion deadline” for what it terms ‘Marina Bay Sands 2.0’ has been set to April 8, 2028. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, an April 2019 agreement with the Singapore Tourism Board had required Las Vegas Sands to complete such investment “within eight years”.
Las Vegas Sands stated in its first-quarter earnings deck that it aimed to complete the US$3.3-billion equivalent work on Marina Bay Sands 2.0 with a “targeted opening in 2027”. That work is separate from a US$1.0 billion renovation of existing hotel space at Marina Bay Sands.
In late April, Marina Bay Sands said it had completed two-thirds of that room-renovation work; about 850 rooms. GGRAsia asked Mr Goldstein what impact the upgrade might have on the group’s hotel business there.
He stated: “There’s no question it’s going to drive all kinds of business because it’s as good as it gets in Asia… That new hotel product in Singapore – like what we have in The Londoner Macao – is exemplary.”
GGRAsia quizzed the group’s chairman and CEO on whether the company was looking for new Marina Bay Sands customers beyond mainland China. China has had heightened scrutiny of those of its wealthy interested in “cross-border gambling”. There has also been recent analyst commentary that the recovery of outbound tourism from mainland China has lagged behind other markets. Factors mentioned included a slower increase in air capacity out of China than in some other regional markets
Mr Goldstein stated: “We don’t [specifically] build product that appeals to these people. They show up, we’re thrilled and we take care of them, but I don’t think we’re targeting Chinese customers or Macau customers. Our goal is to build the best product possible and the best service.”
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