atans1

Posts Tagged ‘Casinos’

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: 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 »

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/

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: 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.

Casinos: High rollers? You must be kidding?

In Uncategorized on 24/04/2010 at 6:19 pm

The casino at Marina Sands opened yesterday. Both casinos are now operational.

When the casino projects were launched several years ago, the government, Sands and Gentings were spinning that the casinos were for high rollers. They were not interested in the mass market. The government has since gone silent but the casinos are still spinning that.

But then how come Resorts World announced that it was partnering Air Asia to bring in the punters. I’m wondering what kind of high rollers fly budget airlines?

And last week Tuesday, BT reported that Marina Sands is partnering 12  M’sian coach operators “in an effort to attract more tourists to its integrated resort which opens later this month.” “Coach prices will range between $55 and $110 (return).”

Err this the high roller traffic Sands boasting about? Sounds like the grind (small punters) market to this punter.

And it would seem the patrons are locals. A recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML) estimates that about 50-60%  of the casino patrons at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) are Singaporean. BoAML also believes that the casino attracts between 20,000-25,000 visitors on weekdays (with more on weekends).

Vincent Khoo, an analyst at UOB KayHian (Malaysia), says there has been noticeably lower visitor arrivals to Genting Highlands from Singapore since RWS opened.

Apart from Macau, casinos are set to pop up all over Asia: in Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. “One market that will have to play close attention to growth of new markets in Asia is Australia, which currently sees a large number of tourists from the likes of Taiwan, Korea, China, and India visit its casinos,” says Warwick Bartlett, GBGC chief executive reported BT. “The real test is whether these new properties will satisfy demand that is currently not being met, or if they are simply shifting the same gamblers and their money around different venues.”

Applied to S’pore, can it attract the OZ-bound punters? And get the Indians, Taiwanese, Koreans and Chinese to come here?

And if you want a holiday around Melbourne, I know a gd package deal. So long as you are willing to spend S$10,000 in a casino, you can get airline tickets for two, a five-star hotel room, and a limo to and from the airport. A top race horse trainer I know thinks it value for money. He says he and his wife spend that much when they visit their children in Melbourne. And as he added, “And I could get lucky”.

Update 28 April 2010

At least we known Marina Sands will not use a budget airline to fly punters from the  Middle East. Sands has a wide-body aeroplane. (Update on 6 May: this aircraft is based at Senai in Johor because Changi is a lot more expensiveaccording to someone senior at the former.)

Genting S’pore — Did you know?

In Investments on 08/01/2010 at 5:19 am

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.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Melvyn Boey estimates VIP clients will account for about 50% of the business at the Singapore casinos. But of these VIP clients, only about 30% might be expected to be brought in by junket operators with most being ‘in-house VIP clients’. Now 30% of 50% sounds a lot to me, though he says it is “insignificant”.

I suspect he must be thinking of Sands rather than Genting S. Sands has said that it will rely on its in-hse VIP gamblers for Sands S’pore.

Funnily, Genting S has an advantage versus SS because the Genting gp stronger financials mean that it can more easily finance in-hse VIP clients. Sands gp isn’t exactly cash rich.

With a recent rally in its share price, Genting S now trades at over 17x 2011e EV/EBITDA. Sands China and Wynn Macau, with existing cashflows in the largest gaming. market in the world, trade below 11x. Even if EBITDA were 50% higher than consensus forecast, valuations are stretched. The recent selling in heavy volume could be a reflection that the institutional investors are realising this. Foreign brokers are calling a “Sell” at these levels.

Or the selling could simply reflect that falls in HK of Winn Macau and Sands China.

Casino delays, Economy and early Elections

In Economy on 23/12/2009 at 6:27 am

So Sands is to be delayed: it will now open in the second quarter of 2010 instead of the first. And there is speculation about a delay by Resorts World.

These delays albeit minor may have implications on the timing of GE and the growth of the tourism sector, a key driver of the economy.

CIMB in a recent report is very bullish on Singapore (but then which broker isn’t?).

An important reason are the casinos: “The two resorts are expected to produce economic multipliers, should tourist arrivals rise from 9m in 2009 to 12m-13m in 2010. Directly, the positives would filter down to other industries such as food & beverage, hotels and interior designers.”

So continued delays (even minor) and the BT report that “Las Vegas Sands (LVS), which is in the midst of applying for its casino licence for Marina Bay Sands (MBS), may not have the help of junket operators when it opens in April”, could be problems not only for the casinos but also for the economy.

For the record, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Melvyn Boey estimates VIP clients will account for about 50% of the business at the Singapore casinos. But of these VIP clients, only about 30% might be expected to be brought in by junket operators with most being ‘in-house VIP clients’. Now 30% of 50% sounds a lot to me, though he says it is “insignificant”

(Some background on why junket operators may give Singapore a miss. The boss of Sands was quoted by BT, “First of all, I don’t think the junket reps (representatives) are going to apply for licences. There may be one or two – but the government has said they don’t want the Macau style junket reps that take a very large percentage of the gross income.”)

So all the more reason for a General Election in March (after the goodies in the Budget) rather than later in the year when conditions may not be so good (“Events, dear boy, events”). The government is believed to be planning an election in 2010 despite MM Lee’s well known reservations to calling an early general election (an election need not be called until sometime in early 2012).

Remember there was a lot of speculation when LHL became PM that an early election would be held? Speculation which only ended when MM said he saw no reason for an early election.

So the probability of an early GE in March is another reason to stay invested. Traditionally STI trends upwards when there is speculation of a general election.

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