Genting rival makes US$3.6b Singapore casino bid

SINGAPORE: Las Vegas Sands Corp, one of four bidders for Singapore's first casino development, said it is proposing to invest US$3.6bil in the project, which it said would be the most costly gaming resort in the world. 

The proposal, submitted at the deadline yesterday, would include 2,500 hotel rooms, 1.2 million sq ft of convention space and one million sq ft of shops, the company said in an e-mailed statement. 

The world's biggest casino-operator by market value is calling the project “The Marina Bay Sands.'' 

Singapore lifted its ban on casinos a year ago after its share of the Asia-Pacific tourism market fell. The island nation is trying to add attractions to double the number of visitors and triple tourism spending by 2015 for an industry that contributes about 3% to its economy. 

The government has said the key criteria would be the ability to draw tourists. 

“All four bidders are competitive and it's going to be a tight race,'' said Pratik Burman Ray, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Research Pte in Singapore. “It's still an open-ended competition at this point.'' 

He rates the joint venture between MGM Mirage and CapitaLand Ltd, as well that of Harrah's Entertainment Inc and Keppel Land, as having a “slightly higher chance'' of winning. 

The two Las Vegas-based casino-operators may also have an edge over the Sands because they had local partners in their bids, he added. Las Vegas Sands said its bid would work with the government's plan to boost tourism. 

The proposal would “unequivocally meet the economic priorities of Singapore'', Sheldon G. Adelson, chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands, said in the statement. 

The amount is higher than the S$5bil bid from rival Genting Bhd of Malaysia announced on Wednesday. The other two, Harrah's and MGM Mirage, have declined to comment on the investments for their bids. 

Las Vegas Sands said it would open the project in 2009, and that it would also include three entertainment centres and a club for high-stakes gamblers. – Bloomberg  

For another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network, click here.

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