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?

  1. That’s why Genting understands the Asian gamblers better…

    Gamblers here don’t need the snazzy joints and carabet shows – they are mere distractions…

    Provide the right things – free food and gambling buzz – and the Asian gamblers will come…

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