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What S’pore, Vietnam, Cambodia have in common?

In Casinos, Private Equity, Vietnam on 25/10/2014 at 5:10 am

No, not authoritarian govts always “fixing the Oppo.

After all, M Ravi, the go-to, kick-ass, take-no-prisoners constitutional lawyer for a drug mule who think the world owes him a living, hooligans who think human rights is the right to disrupt YYMCA activities and tell lies, and a gay that homely gays don’t want to be associated with,  said recently that S’pore is a “democratic society”. No I’m not joking, M Ravi said recently, “We are instructed to place on notice our client’s profound sense of regret that in a democratic society like Singapore, her Constitutional rights and freedoms have been curtailed so drastically on a premise that in her submission is flawed, and all her rights are reserved.”

Coming back to the title, seriously what S’pore, Vietnam and Cambodia have in common is that citizens are by and large banned from gambling in casinos in their own country.

And why isn’t Cambodia studying the laws on allowing locals into Cambodian casinos. After all the Oppo-fixing PM admires our very own LKY.

Ros Phirun, the government’s spokesman on gambling and casinos, says no new decision have been made that would allow Cambodian citizens to wager in Cambodian casinos. He does offer however that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has been studying legislation in America, the Philippines, Vietnam and China, as it prepares to draft new laws to improve casino governance. With better laws, there might be less harm done in letting Cambodians gamble away their savings. “In general, our management of the gambling industry has not been thorough because we have not had the right laws in place …

S’pore’s rules don’t work in a poor country.

One suggestion is to follow the Singapore model. Casinos there charge residents who wish to enter a casino a cover fee of about $80 per day. Alternatively they may buy annual passes for  about $1,600 each … But the same pay-to-play fee structure would be ludicrous in Cambodia, a country where the minimum wage is stuck at about $100 a month and mean disposable income is not greater than $120 per month.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/10/casinos-cambodia

Interestingly, the blog says of S’pore’s law: Dubious thinking has it that only those Singaporeans who can afford to gamble in the first place will be willing to pay the entrance fee.

FYI, btw,

Vietnam Spearheads Frontier Market Investing With a young population and a growing middle class, Vietnam is a popular market for private equity investors, The Wall Street Journal writes.

Finnish education system aimed at creating unemployment?

In Casinos, Economy, Financial competency, Uncategorized on 26/03/2014 at 4:38 am

S’poreans who laud the Finnish education system may want to think again. Look at the unemployment figures in this chart. Look st the Finnish the S’porean figures. Finnish education better than ours leh? Our system not that bad leh? worse for rapid PAP haters, govt is promising change. LOL

Here’s another inconvenient fact for those who want us to be more Finnish. A S’porean studying there tells me that slot machines are everywhere: in convenience stores, shopping centres etc.

On gambling on per capita basis and because of our casinos, we juz behind the Ozzies. Restrictions for locals? What restrictions? Only restricted if cannot pay and pay. OK, OK, terms and conditions even then apply. Finland is a distant third.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/02/daily-chart-

Coming back to education, the fact that PISA ranks China (OK Shanghai as tops) in education, doesn’t deter wealthy Chinese parents from wanting a posh, private British education (think s/o JBJ). No they want potatoe speaking, half Chinese, half ang moh sons: they want a better education for their kids.

My serious point, is that education is a very complicated topics. And we shouldn’t trivalise a debate on education with throwing data willy nilly to support an ideological position, even if one LKY (the PAPpy haters tremble and cross their hearts at the mere mention of his name) does it. Remember his remarks about the kids in neighbourhood schools that gave the govt grief?

In fact, data has to be analysed, not used as sticking plaster to support or denounce any given position on any issue. There are no “right” facts, juz facts.

 

HK, S’pore, Bangkok, KL: What neither MSM nor new media tell us

In Casinos, Economy, Malaysia on 31/01/2014 at 4:20 am

But first Happy Neigh Yr .

S’pore had the second highest number of int’l tourists after HK in 2012. Distant third is Bangkok. KL is 6th. All benefit from Chinese tourists.http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/01/popular-cities

PAP govt must be doing shumething right, TRE , TOC readers? The casinos perhaps, Tan Jee Say?

Why avoid Genting S’pore

In Casinos on 23/01/2014 at 4:32 am

In 2010, I wrote

The junket rules that the authorities are likely to introduce will mean a slow start for VIP (high roller) volumes at Genting Singapore, at least in the short term. The Genting gp, I understand, has always believed junket operators are the key to its VIP segment.

So the VIP gaming volumes at Sentosa will take time build up. Note that the preference for using junket operators for the VIP segment reflects the more conservative nature of the Genting gp. Bad debts are the responsibility of the operators, not the casino. In return, the operators get a bigger share of the gamblers’ spending. (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/genting-spore-did-you-know/)

(Or “Money laundering, casinos and junket operators”)

Genting S’pore has been missing its forecasts for some time and is no longer a favourite.

Looks like it has a problem building up its high roller biz without the help of the junket operators.

Here’s how the junket operators operator in Macau and why S’pore cannot afford to have them (emphasis is mine):

Junkets are nearly impossible to regulate: in private rooms several floors above the hordes of tourists, top clients continue to spend millions of pounds in off-the-record bets.

“Junkets are legitimate agents in Macau’s casino system,” said Philippa Symington of FTI Consulting’s Shanghai office and the author of a recent report on money laundering in Macau.

 “Their activities can stray into criminal territory. This can range from working around occasional loose regulations – for example, enabling players to avoid identification – to relying on organised crime groups to collect gambling debts.”

In some ways, money laundering is to Macau what corruption is to mainland China – ubiquitous, yet impossible to eradicate without undermining the entire economy.

China restricts the amount of money its citizens can carry abroad to about £2,000 per trip and £30,000 over a year. Macau appeals to wealthy mainlanders who, fearing scrutiny and volatility at home, may want to funnel their fortunes into overseas property markets and bank accounts.

Junkets take advance payments on the mainland and offer easy credit across the border, allowing clients to far exceed Beijing’s limits. Streets near major casinos are lined with brightly lit pawn shops selling shrink-wrapped luxury watches for thousands of pounds, which punters from the mainland buy on credit and immediately return for cash.

The 2013 annual report from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a US government agency, quoted an anonymous academic as saying: “Each year, $202bn in ill-gotten funds are channelled through Macau.”

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/05/macau-gambling-tourism-money-laundering

Asean round-up

In Casinos, Temasek on 08/06/2013 at 9:27 am

Thais love debt: CP All, the Thai retailer controlled by tycoon Dhanin Chearavanont, borrowed $6 billion in May to fund a $6.6 billion takeover of Siam Makro, the Thai cash-and-carry group. Low interest rates and the hidden value in Siam Makro’s property portfolio mean the purchase can support hefty borrowing without any synergies. And in January another Thai tycoon, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, won the battle for control of Fraser and Neave with a debt-heavy $11.2 billion offer based largely on breaking up the Singaporean conglomerate.

1997/1998 again? Both had problems then, esp the former.

Easy come, easy go:The main Philippines equity index has tumbled 11% and the Thai index 8.4%  since May 22 when the Fed’s chairman talked of restraining QEIII. Still up on the yr, unlike S’pore.

Convert to gambling and the Philippines? Fullerton Fund Management Company (FFMC), a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, has bought a 5.02% stake in Melco Crown Philippines Resorts Corp.

FFMC has acquired 222.2 million Melco shares, according to the company, which is listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Melco is the Philippine unit of Nasdaq-listed Melco Crown Entertainment, which is backed by Lawrence Ho, a relative of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho.

BBC discovers Burma

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22721804

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22781224

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22776521

Asean round-up

In Airlines, Casinos, Indonesia on 23/03/2013 at 6:33 am

Airbus has won a record order for 234 A320 planes worth 18.4bn euros (US$24bn) from Indonesia’s Lion Air.The order trumps last year’s record order for 230 Boeing planes – also from Lion Air.

Last Saturday, Bloomberry Resorts Corp’s was opened by Philippine President Benigno Aquino.

Big casino operators will be scrutinising the Philippines’ debut as Asia’s newest top-end gambling destination this weekend to see if Manila can deliver on promises of better profit margins and lower costs than global betting capital Macau, says Reuters.

They also want to know whether Bloomberry Resorts Corp , whose shares have climbed 40% in the last six months on hopes of quick returns, can overcome national security concerns and flawed infrastructure to bring in VIPs from China to place bets at its US$1.2 billion Solaire casino resort.

Its rivals are Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and Genting Hong Kong Ltd, with their respective local partners Belle Corp and Alliance Global Group Inc.

“There are high rollers coming in to play … I am expecting at least 1-1.5 billion pesos (US$25 million to US$37 million) to be wagered tomorrow night,” Cristino Naguiat, head of local regulator the Philippine Gaming Corp (Pagcor) told reporters.

The advantage that the Philippines has is that junket operators are welcomed, unlike in S’pore. Junket operators have a reputation for laundering money, and ties with organised crime.

Bangkok skytrain operator BTS Group Holdings Pcl has received commitments worth $850 million from 20 cornerstone investors for Thailand’s biggest initial public offering, a source with direct knowledge of the plans told Reuters on Friday.

The investors in the infrastructure fund IPO include insurer AIA Group Ltd, hedge fund Azentus Capital Management and global asset managers Fidelity and Capital Research and Management, added the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

BTS on Friday week filed a prospectus for the up to $2.1 billion IPO, but the document did not include the names of the cornerstones.

The fund will likely yield between 6-6.2%, Reuters reported.

PT Matahari Department Store (LPPF)’s owners raised 12.7 trillion rupiah (US$1.3 billion) selling stock in the Indonesian retailer, Bloomberg reported.

CVC and Lippo Group sold 1.167 billion shares at 10,850 rupiah. The shares were initially offered at 10,000 rupiah to 11,250 rupiiah

The sellers, seeking to capitalize on investor optimism about consumer spending in Indonesia, asked for as much as double the median valuation among department stores in emerging Asia, price-to-earnings data compiled by Bloomberg show T(he shares were offered for as much as 28 times Matahari’s forecast 2013 earnings). Jakarta’s stock benchmark is up 11.3 percent this year and hit a record high earlier this month.

Temasek GIC is a cornerstone investor despite selling some shares too.GIC also committed to buy a 1.8% stake in the share sale as a cornerstone investor at the same time as its private equity arm was one of the main selling shareholders. Temasek too was a cornerstone investor. There were 15 cornerstone investors each with less than 5%.

(Update: Last para amended and expanded on 24 March 2013.

Asean round-up

In Casinos, Corporate governance, Indonesia on 23/02/2013 at 6:49 am

The Philippine unit of Macau casino company Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd  said on Tuesday it plans to sell up to 1 billion shares as it prepares to develop a $1 billion casino-resort project with local partner Belle Corp.

Melco, run by Australian billionaire James Packer and the son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, bought a 93% in Manchester, a formerly illiquid stock with investments in pharmaceutical and real estate businesses. Melco paid Manchester shareholders 1.3 billion pesos for the backdoor listing.

Melco and Belle, controlled by the Philippines’ richest man, Henry Sy, formalized their partnership in October.

Belle plans to build an integrated entertainment resort complex called Belle Grande Manila Bay, which features a 30,000-square-metre casino in a sprawling gaming complex being developed near Manila Bay. Melco will operate the casino.

There are three other groups with casino licences in the Philippines.

Financier Nathaniel Rothschild has lost his bid to oust the current board of coal mining giant Bumi, the company he helped to found.

Chairman Samin Tan survived a vote to remove him but informed the board he was stepping down.

Mr Rothschild had wanted to rejoin the company and expel 12 of the 14 board members, including the chief executive and chairman.Allegations of financial irregularities at Bumi’s key Indonesian operating subsidiary, PT Bumi Resources – in which it owns 29% alongside the Bakrie family – first emerged in September 2012 , after Mr Rothschild received information from a whistleblower.

Thailand’s economic growth exceeded expectations in the last three months of 2012 as it continued to recover from the previous year’s devastating floods.

Gross domestic product surged 18.9% in the October-December period, from a year earlier. Most analysts had forecast a figure close to 15%.

Compared with the previous quarter, the economy grew by 3.6%. But inflation is a concern.

How S’pore didn’t help the Republican cause

In Casinos, Humour on 17/11/2012 at 10:00 am

We didn’t give a casino licence to this guy.

“Sheldon Adelson: gambling magnate and also world’s biggest mark”: MSNBC host Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes). He spent more than US $50m to defeat President Obama.

Genting S’pore: Short, Sell or Avoid

In Casinos on 15/07/2012 at 7:05 am

The share price of Genting S’pore did not fall after it was reported that ” Today has learnt that a Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) probe against Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is underway over alleged reimbursements of casino entry levies. The investigation, which started almost a year ago, is understood to allegedly involve hundreds of incidences of these illegal reimbursements” http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC120712-0000055/RWS-in-levy-probe?

It should have because:

– In May last year, RWS was fined S$200,000 for illegal reimbursements of casino entry levies.

– And remember CAR ordered it to desist from providing free transport for heartlanders to Sentosa?

These show that RWS is not a gd corporate citizen and if found guilty again it could be fined heavily*, and  further penalised heavily.

But this is not the only worry. The main worry is that RWS’ (and that of other Genting group’s casinos) business model are based on

– a strong focus on the grind (retail) market; and

– the use of junket operators to fund high-rollers, passing on the credit risk to the operators, in return for lower margins (it pays commissions to these operators to bring in the high-rollers and take the credit risk).

But S’pore doesn’t like this model. It discourages locals from gambling at the casinos and its licensing rules for operators are very, very tough. So tough, that no-one is applying to be one. It is afraid that shady operators will launder money, something that is happening in Macau. S’pore’s reputation as a financial centre will be destroyed if the casinos here get a reputation of being conduits in money laundering.

So Genting S’pore has a problem growing its revenues.

And then there is the use of Genting S’pore to fund Genting group’s ambitions: the latest being the possibility of making a bid for an Oz casino that an Oz gambling mogul already covets. Could be expensive for Genting S’pore shareholders. Hence the falling share price after Genting S’pore annced that it had increased its stake in the Oz casino.

——

*Update on 16 July 2012:

Singapore plans to toughen its casino laws and allow the regulator to impose a fine of up to 10% of annual revenues generated by operators Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore, local media and Reuters reported earlier in July.

The maximum penalty that CRA can now impose is S$1 million (US$785,000). But after amendments to the law are passed, the fines could potentially exceed US$200 million, Reuters reported.

The changes could be in place by the end of the year.

Not in our MSM: Sands & Wynn in Macau

In Casinos on 06/07/2012 at 6:14 am

A former executive at the Las Vegas Sands … Steve Jacobs, has filed a wrongful termination suit in which he accuse the company of “controlling and directing” prostitution at its Macau casinos. This story appears in FT but as it is behind a pay wall read here http://presstv.com/usdetail/248751.html.

So are the glamerous looking babes at Marina Sands not clients of Sands IR, but looking for clients?

And that Wynn Resorts donated US$135 million to a university in Macau. Sands and Genting not so generous here. Why?

Macau: NO FTs as croupiers, dealers

In Casinos, Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 30/06/2012 at 7:01 am

And local poly provides training to work in casinos.

Citizenship has its privileges in Macau (and there is no NS).

Yet casinos are still expanding in Macau despite not having cheap FTs as croupiers and dealers.

Must have lessons for S’pore?

 [I]t’s a world where young people like Tommy hold all the cards. With the law favouring local workers, jobs are handed to the polytechnic’s graduates on a plate. Many receive offers of employment from casinos long before they finish their courses.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18099525

Philippines not safe for PRC nationals warns China

In Casinos, China on 12/05/2012 at 6:26 am

China told its citizens on Thurday  they were not safe in the Philippines and its state media warned of war, as a month-long row over rival claims in the South China Sea continued.

Chinese travel agencies announced they had suspended tours to the Philippines, under government orders, and the embassy in Manila advised its nationals already in the country to stay indoors ahead of protests on Friday. Five hundred protested outside the Chinese embassy, in the event.

And the Philippines wants Chinese gamblers to visit Manila, and the Chinese to invest in the country. What a joke!  Want Chinese money but intent on upsetting China. Filipinos are not realists.

A Gamble Too Far? Pinoys gamble on China

In Casinos, China on 15/03/2012 at 9:45 am

The Philippines is not just ahead of other new casino markets [like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan]; it also has several key benefits over the more established ones, according to Gustino De Marco, vice-president at the Hong Kong-based brokerage BTIG and a specialist in this area.

Firstly, it has a strong domestic demand and the type of games Filipinos like to play are the high risk-high reward games such as slot machines, which give better returns to the casino operator than card tables.

Another attraction is geography, with the Philippines only a few hours flight from China, Japan and South Korea, where most high-rolling Asian gamers come from.

And while it is near China, it is not under any kind of Chinese jurisdiction. So, unlike Macau, which in recent years has had to ramp up its gambling tax and impose certain visa restrictions on Chinese gamers, the Philippines is free to offer all the incentives it can.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16753960

But is it realistic for the Filipinos to expect the Chinese authorities* and patriotic Chinese to co-operate when the Filipino government is the most hawkish of all the ASEAN nations when it comes to territotial disputes with China? The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (a S’pore government statutory board thhin-tank) says in its inaugral ASEAN Monitor dated February 2012: Despite the weakness of its armed forces, the Philippines has assumed the role as the most outspoken of four Southeast Asian claimants against China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. President Benigno Aquino has taken the lead in trying to rally ASEAN behind a common policy on the South China Sea, mainly to present a united front in negotiations with Beijing over acode of conduct. Defying threats from official Chinese media, Manila has encouraged the US to increase its military presence in the Philippines and supply the country with additional resources to patrol its waters … Will the Philippinegovernment maintain its hard line over the South China Sea, or prove as susceptible to China’s entreaties as some of its predecessors?

—–

*They could make travelling to the Philippines inconvenient.

Casinos: Good for our banks

In Banks, Casinos, Economy on 12/03/2012 at 4:48 am

No, not profits from lending to gamblers and loan sharks but from raising money for Sands.

Las Vegas Sands, controlled by Sheldon Anderson, hired DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and UOB to coordinate a S$4.6bn loan for Marina Bay Sands, Bloomberg News reports. The loan may be split into a S$4.1 billion term facility and a S$500 million revolving credit facility.

MBS: Behaving like the PAP?

In Casinos on 14/11/2011 at 6:21 am

When I read On Saturday that Marina Bay Sands (MBS) had finally decided to concede, I wondered whether the initial refusal to pay was because the person in question was a lady,  a hawker, and a S’porean? Was MBS trying to take advantage of her?

 I then wondered if he or she (an FT perhaps?) picked up this attitude because of the perception among may S’poreans and FTs that the governing PAP is forever trying to put one over S’poreans, especially the less educated and well-off? Finally, I wondered if there were lessons for the PAP too in this PR disaster for MBS?

Mdm Choo had visited MBS casino on 18 October and won a jackpot of S$416,742.11. The casino told her that the machine had malfunctioned. She was offered a sports car worth S$258,962 and S$50,000 in cash instead. She refused the offer because there was CCTV camera footage and witnesses (including casino staff) to support her account.

It was reported on Saturday that an MBS spokesperson said in a statement, “Marina Bay Sands regrets any confusion over the numbers displayed when Madam Choo Hong Eng won the Lotus Evora slot jackpot in our casino … After carefully reviewing this matter, [MBS] will pay the patron the amount that was displayed on the slot machine … We deeply regret the inconveniences caused.”

The difference was S$107780.11, “peanuts” in money-terms to the casino. Granted the difference was 26%, but management should have paid up on the spot, or soon thereafter to avoid bad publicity: “Customers can come to lose but not win any money” was the message that the Heartlanders got. MBS can be assured that Chinese punters from neighbouring Malaysia will get the same message.

Now now only did it admit that the machine had displayed what the lady had claimed, thereby suffering more adverse publicity; but the Casino Regulatory Authority is investigating whether MBS broke the law.

MBS is in triple jeopardy for trying to take advantage of a lowly educated lady S’porean hawker? Come the next general election, will the PAP pay a heavy price if the less educated and well- off S’poreans still think that they are being taken advantage of by the PAP? 

Finally why the does local media keep calling the lady a hawker juz because that’s her occupation is beyond me. The reporters and editors see her no “ak”? Or juz envious of her gd luck?

Bad luck continues to dog Genting Singapore.

In Casinos on 13/11/2011 at 7:33 am

RWS should free the doplhins because bad luck continues to dog Genting Singapore.

In what Genting Singapore called a prudent move in the face of a slowing global economy and tightening credit conditions in China, the company raised its bad debt provisions to S$56.9 million for the third quarter, up from S$23.5 million a year ago.

That equates to 8.5% of its gaming revenue, higher than the average of 3% the past six quarters, Citigroup wrote.

‘However, this is in contrast to Marina Bay Sands, which has not shown higher provisioning, so we wonder if Genting Singapore’s decision was driven by its aggressive credit extension that was seen in the first half of the year,’ Macquarie Equities Research analysts wrote.

There are concerns that its flagship casino, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), continued to cede market share in both VIP and mass gaming segments to rival MBS.

“Genting Singapore lost significant gaming market share in 3Q11 and also did not see any ramp-up in non-gaming,’ the Macquarie report said. ‘We believe the VIP market share loss is more driven by lack of a competitive product relative to MBS.”

‘We find it interesting that notwithstanding Genting Singapore adding more table game capacity, slots and electronic table games (ETGs) (quarter-on-quarter), mass market failed to ramp and showed 2 per cent QoQ growth. This essentially means that table, slot and ETG yields all declined QoQ – at a time when there was available hotel room capacity,” the Macquarie report said.

The scheduled opening of Bayfront MRT at MBS may also shift some mass-market players away from RWS, it said.

Err maybe freeing the dolphins will help dispel the bad luck?

BTW, Morgan Stanley and OCBC are bullish on the stock.

Related posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/two-dead-dolphins-rws-says-this/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/rws-appeal-to-their-superstitious-nature/

Dolphins to ACRES: Listen to this child

In Casinos on 08/10/2011 at 8:40 am

Finally we dolphins have a intelligent friend who talks sense, and she is only a child.

Is the government also a party to this as they were the authority which awarded the preferred contract to RWS (Genting Highlands) which asserted that the dolphin exhibition should be one of their attractions?

If so, the best way to pressure the government would be to create awareness, to get more Singaporeans  involved in the issue and to action their involvement by writing letters to appropriate government agencies, their Members of Parliament,  and even to our Prime Minister.

The last two para of an otherwise standard piece from a human friend of Flipper. Listen to her ACRES. The Cynical Investor (no friend as he is a capitalist) tried telling ACRES this some moons ago but was ignored http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/freeing-flipper-try-govmin/

We dolphins are of the view that either Louis Ng and ACRES are not that intelligent or they got no courage to take on the government. They are afraid they could be locked up as the “Dolphin Conspiractors”?

Finally can someone ask what has happened to our brothers and sisters at Subic Bay? Are they all still alive? Are they well? We have been told by our brothers and sisters in RWS that their human keepers told them that when RWS said the dolphins “under its care” were “doing well” recently, RWS was refering to the Captive Nine on the Sentosa resevation, not the ones at Subic Bay.

XXXXX

Marxist Dolphins

Two dead dolphins & RWS says this?

In Casinos on 04/10/2011 at 7:54 am

A RWS spokesperson noted that the dolphins under its care for the past three years are “doing well” a local freesheet reported.

Excuse me, a total of 27 friends of Flipper were detained in 2008, two died and RWS dares say the dolphins under its care are “doing well”? A fatality rate of 7.4% is not to be dismissed so lightly. Whatever the “Marxist conspirators” and their friends may whine about, none of the detainees died when imprisoned. If any detainee had died, there would be an enquiry. Here two out of 27 dolphins died, and RWS brazenly claims the dolphins are “doing well”.

No wonder the run of bad luck at RWS and Genting group continues.

Remember a few weeks ago, an Australian tourist was hurt on one of RWS’ rides. Before that there were problems with the air-conditioning at RWS, and before that there was an outbreak of food poisoning on one of Genting’s cruise ships.

Best avoid the shares of RWS and the group if you are superstitious. Pretty conclusive that a curse is in place.

RWS: Appeal to their superstitious nature

In Casinos on 31/05/2011 at 8:16 am

Many moons ago, I flippantly posted this when RWS was facing a spot of bad luck when it opened. Well it soon ran into a spell of gd luck that even the deaths of two dolphins and the relocation of the rest of the dolphins to a secret location in the Philippines did not break.

But then RWS ran into problems with the government and had to pay fines. Then gaming revenues declined. The government has yet to release its guidelines on the licensing of junket operators. This means that Genting will not be able to tap the full potential of the high roller market, as its business model for this market depends on junket operators. Then a few days after the official opening of the theme park, the aircons went out.

Maybe the dead dolphins have cursed RWS. Rather than appeal to the scruples of RWS’ Malaysian Chinese controlling owners and managers, dolphin huggers, swimmers and lovers should appeal to the superstitious side of these Malaysian Chinese. I’m sure there are credible shamans, Feng Shui persons and witch doctors prepared to say, “Free the dolphins and gd Karma will follow”.

Meanwhile give the shares a miss.

Freeing Flipper: Try govmin

In Casinos on 29/05/2011 at 7:44 am

I agree that dolphins should not be held captive and made to perform for another species.

But the appeals to RWS are misplaced. I’m sure RWS would like nothing better than to be rid of the Flipper controversy. Not gd for business. It’s in the entertainment business and bad publicity is terrible for business.

The problem is that it won the bid to build the casino and ancillary attractions because it was the only bidder that was prepared to catch Flipper and make him dance. The other bidders, perhaps having more moral scruples, did not include dolphins. Or maybe only M’sian Chinese have no scruples when it comes to dolphins?

RWS won because of the promise to catch Flipper and make him perform. The government is holding RWS to its promise on Flipper. It cannot do otherwise. If it released RWS from its obligation to have Flipper perform, it risks being sued by the losing bidders, and tarnishing S’pore’s reputation as a place where the rule of law prevails.

The only way out is for the government to impose a very large fine (a few hundred million dollars?) as punishment for RWS not meeting its obligations on Flipper. The fine has to be huge to avoid the losing bidders suing the government. RWS has to feel the financial pain of including Flipper (against his will) in its bid.

In that case there would be more reason to sell RWS shares.

Marina Sands: House loses

In Casinos on 05/05/2011 at 6:41 am

Sands earnings off because of S’pore losses.

Casinos: The price of IRs

In Casinos on 26/02/2011 at 6:32 am

Because S’pore wants a casino to be only part of an Integrated Resort, the resort owner only pays 17% tax.  In Macau, which is less squimish abt living off the gambling industry, the tax rate is 39%

Between April and November 2010 the IRs paid S$420m in taxes.

If the IRS here had to pay 39% tax, S’pore would have collected S$544m more.

Marina Bay’s 57th-floor “skypod”, the infinity “skypool”, the world’s biggest ballroom and a huge shopping centre., and RWS’s Universal Studios set, and its continued detention of Flipper’s friends, are only possible because of the 17% tax rate.

I’d forgo all these for more money.

Casinos: Junket operators have to be whiter than white

In Casinos on 10/02/2011 at 5:28 am

For the casinos, this means no biz from junket operators likely in the foreseeable future. So only income from the small gamblers of S’pore, Malaya and Indonesia, and in-house high rollers where they assume the credit risk. The fourth leg — high rollers courtesy of junket operators — is still missing.

Going by this BT report, before CNY, Junket regulations, on the very tough rules on junket operators that S’pore is putting in place, it is clear that the authorities have decided that they would rather lose high roller traffic than risk S’pore’s wealth mgt and banking aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »

Genting S’pore: Give it a break

In Casinos on 29/01/2011 at 8:41 am

Recently, there was an ant–terrorist exercise at RWS. Shouldn’t it have been held at Marina Sands?

In addition to being a casino, there are two more compelling reasons for it being a target for Paki terrorists. It is owned by an American and a church uses part of the place on Sundays to hold services.

Genting on the other hand is HQed in a Muslim nation and is no friend of Flipper — “The enemy of an enemy is my friend”.

Casinos: Trouble at Marina Sands?

In Casinos on 29/01/2011 at 6:52 am

CEO is going, This would be second major resignation in months.

Could it be that MM waz right that the ramp up in Sands would be slower than what mgt expected?

Or that mgt couldn’t get the little people from M’sia, Indonesia and S’pore to patronise the casino? Too ang moh for their taste?

Casinos: Flies in the ointment

In Casinos on 22/01/2011 at 5:25 am

The casinos have done better than anyone could have dreamed of. Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa generated $420 million in net revenue for the government between April and November last year.And also collected $130 million in casino entry levies on behalf of the Tote Board for the same period.

Too bad Turf Club and clubs scan0009.

But it could have been better. I’m saying this as sumeone who tot S’pore had missed the cruse boat on casinos first by refusing to allow them until 2004 (mid 1990s would have been “betterest”) and by insisting that casinos play down the mass market side of the trade with the integrated resort and high roller concepts. The govmin wanted casinos as part of IRs. It wanted high rollers in dinner jackets, dancing gals and dolphins, fancy eating places: anything but the ordinary punter.

The numbers show that casino and hence the tax revenues could be higher if not for the govmin. As Sentosa has shown with a vengeance, the ordinary punters from M’sia and S’pore with the help of middle class Indon tourists  are the main stay of the casinos, not the high rollers the govmin wanted. And they don’t go there because of the food or gals or for anything else. They go to gamble.

And one problem why the high rollers are not coming: the rules on junket operators have not been finalised.

This takes me to the second “fly in the ointment”. Too tight the rules, and the operators will not bring in the high rollers. Too lax the rules, and there goes the banking and wealth mgt aspirations or worse. A reputation as a money laundering centre will kill the banking and wealth mgt industry overnight. The fear and danger is that  serious money can be laundered by a few unscrupulous junket operators, the majority of whom focus on servicing genuine high rollers.

Uniquely S’pore: having as major driver-industries, gambling on one hand, and banking and wealth mgt industry on the other.

Dolphins: cash for freedom?

In Casinos on 17/01/2011 at 5:25 am

Resorts World Sentosa and the Gentings gp have not been getting gd publicity on the dolphins’ issue. There was unfavourable media coverage from the local media, of all people and the govmin has weighed in stating that Gentings have to comply with all the int’l rules on captive dolphins. When these two disassociate themselves from a money-making machine like RWS, Gentings gp needs to take note.

The dolphins are now believed to be somewhere in the Philppines, having been quietly airfreighted ASAP from Langkawi. The int’l media and animal rights activists are trying to find out where they are. Now if one or more were to fall seriously ill or, worse, die, Gentings would face more bad publicity. And punters may think it bad luck to gamble at a place that hurt or killed Flipper’s friends.

Genting S’pore shld ask the govmin how much it will cost Genting to get the condition that it has to have dolphins in the IR removed. And if the govmin refuses or demands too much money, Genting can tell the world, “We tried.”

Whatever the outcome, institutional investors in the West will be more receptive to buying Genting S’pore shares. Now they run the risk of  being associated with a “Killing Flipper” investment. The other listcos in the Gentings gp also run the risk of being accessories to the murder of Flipper.

As to paying out money, Genting is rumoured to be used to it. It is widely believed in M’sia that the attacks by the Malaysian Chinese Association on the busing of M’sian gamblers to Sentosa, is motivated by money. With an election coming, the MCA wants money from Gentings. In return, the attacks will cease.

Casinos: Even better than govmin must have dreamed?

In Casinos on 14/12/2010 at 7:08 am

Analysts believe Singapore’s two casinos will produce gaming revenues of more than [US]$5 billion in the island nation’s first full year of legalized gambling.

… country’s leaders didn’t expect the popularity of gambling. The two casinos are attracting customers from throughout the region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, India and China.

Las Vegas Review-Journal article

I for one never tot it would be so gd, even though I’ve been for casinos for over 10 yrs. I tot is was an opportunity that GCT and LSL his economic $ financial czar missed. Better late than never.

Casinos: Foretaste of the future?

In Casinos on 11/12/2010 at 12:41 pm

This happened a few hours ago at the Venetian Sands, sister company of Marina Bay Sands, just before a visit by the owner Sheldon Adelson. Doesn’t say much abt Sands’ security. Let’s hope the authorities will be proactive in ensuring that such a thing doesn’t happen at Marina Bay Sands.

Police raided the Venetian Macau Resort and Casino early Friday morning, arresting 110 hookers and 22 suspected members of a prostitution ring responsible for pimping the women, according to a local newspaper.

Chan King-Hong, chief coordinator of criminal investigation for the Macau Judiciary Police, told The Standard that the raid began around 1 AM and lasted till 6Am, with a toll of 110 arrested hookers, suspected of being illegal immigrants, and 22 pimps. Apparently, the prostitutes were forced to pay “protection fees” of HK$800 to HK$1000 (between $100 and $130) to operate in the hotel, posing as guests of course.

Forbes story

There is a more chilling concern. If security is so lax, what chances some Jihadist planting a bomb? Remember MBS presses several Jihadist hot buttons: It is in S’pore, a member of the Coalition of the Willing in the Afghanistan; gambling is evil in Islam; Sands is an American company; and a Christian group uses a tiny part of the place on Sundays as a church.

Genting S’pore: Time to cash out?

In Casinos on 22/11/2010 at 5:20 am

The price is coming under pressure because 3Q results annced over a week ago disappointed. Brokers were initially afraid to openly call a sell because they had called a sell when it was around S$1. And then had to revise that call as the stock powered ahead. It closed Friday at $2.04 and has been higher.

But sell calls are now coming out despite its strong cash flow and expectations that Singapore may overtake the Las Vegas Strip in terms of gross gaming revenue by 2013.  They see downside risk to Genting’s share price after a 63% run-up year-to-date. And they see no reason to take into account its possible entry in new gaming jurisdictions such as Japan, or the anticipated licensing of junket operators in Singapore.

Hedge fund for the “little people”

In Casinos on 02/11/2010 at 9:43 am

Man Group Plc, the world’s largest publicly traded hedge-fund manager, is for the first time marketing to individual investors in Singapore a fund which uses computer programs to identify trades in futures markets.

Singapore investors can put a minimum of S$20,000 ($15,503) in Man AHL Trend, Bloomberg reports.

Man Group says it spent three years discussing the fund with Singapore’s regulator, and is looking at ways it can market it in Malaysia and other countries in the region.

Let’s hope for the sake of everyone, that this doesn’t turn out to be another DBS HN; minibonds; and Merrill Lynch Jubilee and Morgan Stanley Pinnacle notes. I am always concerned when complicated products are retailed to the unwashed masses.

Casinos: Adding more pieces to jigsaw?

In Casinos on 29/10/2010 at 5:21 am

So we now know that locals constitute more than a third of daily visitors. Letter to Today from  regular TOC contributor. Marina Sands now tells analysts locals account for  38%. CLSA, a broker, says it this will “eventually” concern the the govmin.

But as the TOC writer has pointed out here and before, there are lots of info that is missing for anyone to make credible judgements on whether the casinos are doing what they are supposed to do: attract foreigners.

Here’s two pieces of info that could help in a tiny way:

1. Cannibalisation of existing gabling outlets. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the crowds at the Turf Club are thinning, and turnover is down . And that the clubs that have slot machines are suffering a decline in slot machine revenues, some significantly. Go ask operations and financial people at e.g. Polo Club, SRC and Guild Hse.

So plenty of cannibalisation of existing gambling biz? But the govmin won’t care, remember the levy for S’poreans and PRs?

2. Sentosa RW keen to dispel the impression that they were targeting heartlanders (remember free bus rides to casino From AMK, Bedok etc?) have been telling analysts that M’sians are the single biggest source of visitors, among the tourists.

Not that surprising to me as since before it opened RW Sentosa had been giving incentives to travel businesses to bring in visitors in from the small towns in West M’sia. All kind of attractive “freebies” including cheap hotel accommodation in JB are being offered by the travel agencies and bus companies.

BTW, CLSA expects RWS to report third quarter revenue of $749 million compared with $860.8 million in the second quarter.

So there are tourists coming, but not the kind the S’pore govmin, STB and the casinos had been telling us the casinos  are and will attract– James Bond figures; the very,very rich; and doctors and dentists and executives attending conventions. It’s the retail trade the casinos are attracting, at least at RW. No wonder the MS tables and machines are half empty, or so the staff tell me. But still MBS made “a record” $630.9m according to the Chairman of Sands Gp. It’s first time MBS is reporting its numbers since it opened.

Which begs a question, were the casinos had into spending too much for their facilities?  If the market turned out to be heartlanders and M’sian Chinese, lavish surroundings are of no interest and use. The stereotype is that these people would gamble on anything, given the chance.

But to be fair, the govmin wanted the casinos to attract sheikhs, tycoons, James Bond types, and the doctors, dentists executives and bankers attending conventions, not the grind mkt. So to get their licences, the casinos had to spend, spend. Who says our govmin is pro-biz?

So if it isn’t pro-biz and it isn’t pro-poor, what does it stand for? Maybe a variant of Robin Hood? Steal from the rich and give to its SWFs which are held on trust for all S’poreans?

Casinos: Could there have been corruption?

In Casinos on 14/09/2010 at 9:10 am

I’m very cynical, but it only struck me this morning that the buses to heartlands fiasco could be more serious than the incompetency of VB and his ministry, and  the gambling and tpt agencies.

We now know that the tpt agency gave approval for the bus services, but we don’t know whether it consulted the ministry and the casino agency, and when they became aware of the services. From their swift cancellation of the services one gets the impression they only just knew. This in itself raises questions of why they didn’t know earlier.

I tot it was the usual govmin goof up like the failure to anticipate that FTs would need public hsing and tpt, or the insecurity at SMRT terminals, or boasting that they could control floods, when they couldn’t. I mean these things happen regularly now that LKY is no longer running S’pore. If on;y we could clone MightyMind and Dr Goh at their prime.

But could there be corruption at some level in the bureaucracy of one or more of these organisations?  Could MM and the “Old Guard” fear of corruption be correct.

I hope the PM will tell us if there is evidence of corruption, and if there is, what is being done.

BTW I’m in favour of casinos but I’m also in favour of govmin walking the talk. Here it clearly failed for many moons to protect S’poreans from the marketing of RW.

Casinos: Answers needed

In Casinos on 11/09/2010 at 6:27 am

After the Kiddie Games fiasco looks like Vivian Balakrishnan goofed again. It’s getting to be a habit — remember his tirades against the poor, and the homeless and the delay in building a new sports complex.

OK, I’m a bit unfair as the latest goof should be shared with the statutory agency regulating the casinos. And perhaps LTA as surely the bus service must have needed LTA approval?

VB’s ministry and the agency have implicitly admitted that they shouldn’t have allowed the bus service to the heartlands when the ministry said it  and the Casino Regulatory Authority would issue a directive yesterday to stop the shuttle services provided by casino operators.

What is worrying is that despite the service starting officially in June, the authorities only said a few days ago that they would investigate the service. They didn’t know earlier? Or they didn’t care?

If the former, there are all kinds of security implications. If the authorities didn’t know something that was openly done in  contravention of the law, this means that those who want to plant bombs can be reasonably assured they wouldn’t be detected.

If they didn’t care, waz all the talk abt protecting S’poreans against the ills of gambling worth?

And if they didn’t know until recently, why they  didn’t know? And what steps is the PM taking to improve open source and covert intelligence gathering?

And if some ministries or agencies knew, and others didn’t, why wasn’t info shared and why those that didn’t know,  find out. I mean the services were not covert.

I hope the govmin comes clean about when it knew abt the heartland bus service, and if it knew early, why it didn’t do anything for months?

Did some MasterMind realise what VB and clowns were doing or not doing, and break  skulls?

This after all has implications on S’pore’s image for being a gd place to do business because the govmin is efficient, something VB has tarnished with the Kiddie Games and the delay in building a national play pen.

Update 14 Sept http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/casinos-could-there-have-been-corruption/

Casinos: Why govmin investigation only now?

In Casinos, Economy on 09/09/2010 at 7:41 am

Update 10 sept 2010 — RW Sentosa to desist from targeting heartlanders

It shows that RW tot that govmin’s talking the talk that casinos waz for foreigners and that it wanted to protect S’poreans was juz that: talking the talking. And can it be blamed? The bus services started in June (though as I wrote below I saw a sign in February offering the service) but only  two days back did the govmin start investigating.

Once it did so, RW pulled back. MPs should ask which govmin department knew abt this servive, and when. And if a dept knew early, why wait until few days ago to investigate. And did RW have to ask for approval, and did it?

Original piece follows.

I am surprised that the govmin is only now investigating the free bus rides to RW Sentosa. I had assumed that the govmin had been aware of and approved of bringing heartlanders to gamble at RW. Yes I tot the govmin was that cynical: talking the talk on the evil of gambling, but walking the walk on GDP growth by helping the corporate sector.

Hey after all VB throws S$300 billion at some kiddie games but is mean with the poor and homeless, so it is not unreasonable for me  to be cynical.

The fact that the govmin is only now investigating indicates it didn’t know of the buses. Kinda worrying? If it wasn’t aware of this public fact (I saw signs in Bedok and AMK), then what hope of catching mad Paki bombers who wish ill on S’pore. BTW mad Pakis who wish ill on S’pore, don’t throw bombs. Get people to support the PAP and you may achieve the same result.

I am even more surprised to hear of the service beginning only in June. In February I had seen a sign near a bus stop in Bedok indicating that it was a pick-up point for a free bus service to RW Sentosa. Read the rest of this entry »

Genting S’pore: Still trust analysts?

In Casinos on 17/08/2010 at 5:18 am

Genting S’pore is flying as bearish analysts calling “sell” when it was much lower, are calling it a “buy” when it is flying. Sell low, buy high?

I don’t track this stock but I’m wondering who are the gullible fund mgrs who having sold stock or refrained from buying earlier on their brokers’ recommendation, have now turned buyers at higher prices.

And why they trust the analysis of people who got it wrong only weeks ago? I mean would you trust an astrologer who got it wrong a few weeks ago when you visited him?

Let’s hope its not a case of “Buy high, sell low”.

Why MM and Sands differ on rampup?

In Casinos, Economy on 24/06/2010 at 7:48 am

Sands disagrees with MM’s view that it will take 3-5 years for its casino to get to full speed.

It is aiming for 150,000 visitors a day, and soon. And to beat analysts expectations. {Last sentence is an update on 24 June evening]

The message Marina Sands seems to be sending: it is for locals.

Unless I make very unreasonable assumptions (and assign high probabilities to otherwise improbable events) about immigration and the length of stay of tourists, I do not see how the majority of the 150,00 visitors to Marino Sands are ever going to be tourists.

Based on the 2008 tourist numbers (2009 was a bad year) there were only 10 million odd tourists a year and S’pore is aiming for 17m a yr visitors by 2015. Let me know if you can make the majority of 150,000 visitors tourists or FTs.

(If I assume that 120,000 of these visitors are tourists that stay a week here and visit the complex every day, this means Sands alone will bring in 6.2m visitors a year to S’pore.)

Perhaps that is why MM’s projections defer so much from Sands. He expects less local traffic than Sands.

Oh and if Sands says high rollers are coming, why the aim of 150,000 visitors a day? 150,000 sounds like the grind market, not high rollers.

Update on 16 July 2010. But Thomas Arasi, president and chief executive officer of Marina Bay Sands, gave a more conservative forecast. “We expect to attract over 70,000 visits a day and 18 million visitors a year after we are fully open,” he said.

For now, the casino alone attracts some 25,000 visitors daily and close to 500,000 visitors this month, one-third of which are Singaporeans, with two-thirds being foreigners. However, as LVS chief operating officer Michael Leven said, that is “a false number.”
“As we develop our business I think we’ll have around 20 percent of locals and 80 percent of foreigners,” he forecasted.
LVS officials expected the majority of visitors to come from three market segments, but they are also aiming at countries outside Asia.
The primary concentric-circle comprises Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia with the second being Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Finally, the third segment comprises Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan, India and the Philippines. However, some Middle East and European countries are also potential markets for LVS resort in Singapore. “There is more than enough business for us to succeed here,” Adelson stated.

High rollers take bus to Sentosa casino?

In Casinos, Economy on 23/06/2010 at 5:49 am

Genting S’pore’s share price has been strong presumably because of expected high takings at its Sentosa casino.

Well if takings are high, it ain’t from high-rollers.

Sunday Times carried an article saying that at Resorts World Sentosa there is a bus terminus for buses from various points in West Malaysia and back, and that the buses are used by Malaysian punters visting the Sentosa casino

Err these high rollers that Sentosa IR and S’pore government want? Looks more like the M’sian equivalent of the grind market gamblers that once travelled from the HDB heartlands to Genting Highlands. Oh and BTW, Genting use budget airline AirAsia to bring in “high rollers”, unlike Marina Sands that has its own jet based in Senai because Changi is too expensive.

Can you imagine high rollers taking the bus from Senai to the city? It’s a two hr ride at least.

PM make yrself, yr government and party popular with the “little” people: Lift the charges that make it expensive for the locals to gamble at the casinos. As to the problem gamblers that seem to the issue, treat them the way the government treats the homeless, destitute and unemployed: “It’s yr fault, you are that way. Be responsible.”

And admit to yrself that the IRs are being kept afloat by the” little” people of S’pore and Malaya, not the high rollers and money-launders.

You can declare it a success that the fact that high rollers and money launders are giving S’pore a miss:  the rules here on junket tours, money laundering and non-privacy are the toughest in the world.

Update 25 June

Why Marina Sands must be targeting locals and not high rollers and tourists — or why the numbers don’t add up http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/why-mms-and-sands-views-on-casino-differ/

RW Sentosa yet to call in the bomohs or shamans

In Casinos on 13/06/2010 at 9:45 am

Some moons ago, I posted this when RW World ran into a spell of bad — Tom Jones falling sick at concert,and attraction (still) not working http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/genting-spore-help-needed/ suggesting it called in the bomohs or Red Indian shamans.

Obviously my advice was ignored as there is a problem with another attraction.

Well my tot that if the bad luck continues, someone may break the bank at RW Sentosa, could come true.

Are the IRs a flop?

In Casinos on 08/06/2010 at 6:03 am

[Updated on 7 September 2010 -- see last para]

Casinos would be allowed in Singapore only “over my dead body,” Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founder and a fierce opponent of gambling, once said according to the opening paragraph of this NYT article on the casinos here

Well he allowed them in when still alive but will they be more than the living dead when it comes to attracting high rollers?

Maybe not

While hoping to draw free-spending Chinese, Indonesians and other foreigners to the establishments, the government has imposed strict reporting regulations that make it difficult for the casinos to draw high rollers, who typically make up a disproportionate share of casino revenues.

Casino revenues, experts say, could also be crimped by Singapore’s stringent restrictions.

In Asia, especially in Macao, high rollers are usually shuffled from one casino to another by tour operators who guarantee their privacy. But the government here requires tour operators to disclose gamblers’ names and passport and tax identification numbers. The regulations have effectively forced the casinos to seek high rollers on their own by inviting big-betting guests from their casinos outside Singapore.

And its not even attracting the tourists

So far, the news media here have reported that locals have accounted for a greater share of gamblers than had been expected; Sands, which opened in late April, attracted bad press when participants in the first conference held there complained of power failures and other problems. Whether the resorts eventually attract the sought-after buzz and foreigners, especially when they are fully running later this year, remains to be seen.

“If I were to hazard a guess, I think that those who were banking on the holistic concept of integrated resorts to bring an increased and diverse number of tourists may be disappointed,” Derek da Cunha, the author of “Singapore Places Its Bets,” a book on the casinos’ impact on Singapore, said in an e-mail message. “Insofar as tourism is concerned, what we largely have now is casino tourism.”

So what hope the  casinos would generate the kind of “buzz” found in London, Paris and New York.

“Their development is also part of our bigger plan to reinvent our city-state and turn it into an exciting, livable global city,” the Singapore Tourism Board said in a written reply to a question about the resorts.

The only gd thing

Through their sheer size and proximity to the city center, the casinos have already transformed Singapore’s landscape.

And if you were a friend of Dr Chee or his SDP, or TOC Choo another sign of PAP failure.

The truth is more wishy-washy.  It is too early to tell … whether they will succeed, as Singapore hopes, in transforming its image, culture and mind-set.

But the signs don’t look good.

Well based on Gentings performance as reflected in its share price, the casinos are making money. But the fiasco over the “tapping” of locals, shows that the aim to attracting foreigners and remaking S’pore is still “an aspiration” (to quote MM from another context).

Casinos: Considered views

In Casinos on 20/05/2010 at 5:21 am

We don’t get this type of stuff from our “constructive or “nation building” MSM nor from our often emotional socio-political websites. I don’t blame the latter because they are reacting to the BS that SPH and MediaCorp copy down from somewhere.

Example: last Saturday BT wrote, “Teething problems aside, the government has given the assurance that Singapore’s two new integrated resorts – casinos and all – are ‘off to a flying start’ so far.” But no evidence was cited. It was summarising what cabinet minister Vivian was saying.  But yesterday, MediaCorp’s free sheet reported rhat junior minister Isawaran had said that it was too early to judge success of the IRs.

The views of the Economist

[T]he Marina Bay Sands casino … is a striking addition to the Singapore skyline. It also symbolises an interesting, and potentially risky, new phase in the city-state’s highly successful government-led industrial policy.

The government has identified tourism as having big potential for growth, and offering visitors the opportunity to gamble is seen as a crucial part of its plan … Yet whereas Singapore’s government has been unreservedly enthusiastic in its attempts to attract other industries, ranging from biotech to hedge funds, it clearly has mixed feelings about its pursuit of the gambling dollar. It can scarcely bring itself to utter the word casino, preferring instead to describe its new attractions as “integrated resorts”

[Eg CNA reported There will be no compromise to the government’s concept of an Integrated Resort (IR) – that allows only a small proportion for gambling … when the IRs are fully open, gaming areas will take up less than 3 per cent of the Gross Floor Area for Marina Bay Sands and less than 5 per cent for Resorts World Sentosa …both IRs have, in fact, opened significant non-gaming facilities … junior minister S Iswaran, said in answer to a question in Parliament.

The recent travails of those rival resorts [Macau and Las Vegas] are a reminder that the gambling industry is risky not only for punters but also for investors and the places that host it …

For Singapore, the immediate opportunity is to give the many business people who visit a reason to stay for the weekend rather than leave as soon as their work is done. Hitherto there has been little fun to be had other than hitting Orchard Road’s glitzy shopping malls.

The view from the NYT.

It’s all about attracting conventions, trade shows and other big-tent events.

But Singapore will face tough competition. The Hong Kong Tourism Board got a budget of 150 million Hong Kong dollars from the government to increase promotions for meetings and conventions in the next five years. The board has set up an office to provide one-stop professional support to event organizers and enhance overseas promotions.

And Macau too according to the article.


Casinos: Vietnam too

In Casinos, Vietnam on 19/05/2010 at 5:16 am

More competition for our IRs and remember Taiwan, Cambodia and the Philippines want their slice of the cash too.

Developers set sights on Vietnam gambling strip

A Canadian development group, backed by Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners, has appointed an MGM Mirage executive to run the first Las Vegas-style casino in Vietnam, in the latest sign of gaming expansion in Asia.

Vietnam has been targeted by developers looking to replicate the success of Macao, which attracted billions of dollars of investment from the casino industry.

Vietnam has only issued one gaming licence and plans to make a resort casino the centrepiece of the US$4.2bn Ho Tram strip resort complex on beachfront land 130 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City.

Asian Coast Development Limited of Canada won the licence and has appointed Lloyd Nathan, the president of MGM Mirage global gaming development, as chief executive. ACDL and MGM Mirage have struck a deal to name the new property the MGM Grand Ho Tram.

“The Ho Tram project represents one of the most compelling investment opportunities in the integrated casino resort industry,” said Mr Falcone, chief executive of Harbinger, which is ACDL’s largest investor.

Mr Nathan has led MGM Mirage’s overseas efforts during a period of international expansion for the group and other gaming operators. “The Ho Tram Strip is set to become the pre-eminent gaming and leisure destination in south-east Asia,” he said, adding that Vietnam was developing a “positive regulatory framework and competitive tax structure”.

Jean Chrétien, the former Canadian prime minister, and an adviser of ACDL, played a key role in putting the Vietnam project together, Mr Nathan said.

Like its rivals, MGM Mirage,has been keen to find new international markets to sustain its growth after the recession and the economic slowdown hit returns in its home US market.

FT report in late April.

Genting S’pore: Help needed?

In Casinos, Economy on 27/03/2010 at 9:56 am

Genting S’pore’s share price has declined since this was posted http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/genting-spore-did-you-know/

Trumpets pls.

Seriously what with the problems at the UA theme park (favourite ride suspended) and the Tom Jones concert (he sang two songs), and bearing in mind the original name of Sentosa, Blakang Mati (“behind death”), Gentings would be prudent in calling in a bomoh* to “buang sui” and a fung shui master to check out the alignments. If mgt decides to be rational, who knows what may happen next: a super rich punter breaking the bank?

The losses could be horrendous. I was in a super VIP room (friend invited me to see how the super rich live) and the money changing hands would make a S’pore cabinet minister feel a pauper.

And thinking abt it, mgt should bring in the medicine men or shamans (the politically correct term) from its related N American casino operations. Redskins are its partners there.

Remember you read this prediction of big losses, if the shamans are not called in, here first.

Update

*I’ve seen a bomoh ensure that rain did not spoil the Sultan of Pahang’s (and my) enjoyment of a high-goal polo match. The rain fell everywhere except on the polo field and the spectators’ stand. It was awesome.

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