While the Singaporean government remains tight-lipped about casinos in their country, there is no denying that the two which have opened since 2010, Resorts World Sentosa and the Marina Bay Sands, have proved to be resounding successes. Their popularity has influenced online gambling sites, like 777 Dragon Casino Singapore, and the return on the investment has wowed industry insiders all over the world, leading some to wonder if the two Singaporean powerhouses in the east will overtake the over 41 casinos on the Strip in Las Vegas. Only time will tell, of course, but prospects are bright for the Resorts World Sentosa and the Marina Bay Sands, even if they emerged from rather unlikely circumstances.
What is now the government of the Republic of Singapore, which lies at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, banned gambling in the early 1800s (though at the time it was British-ruled). Although horse racing was permitted starting in the 1840s, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the government instituted a national lottery in an effort to mitigate gambling addiction, which the traditional-minded country views as a major threat to the morality of their society.
With a history so steeped in moral opposition to gambling and the much-villainized woes it can create, namely criminal activity and addiction, it probably came as a shock in 2005 when the Singaporean government announced – amid a firestorm of criticism from religious groups (particularly Muslims and Christians), social workers and a petition with over 10,000 signatures – they would be accepting bids for two state-regulated casinos, in an effort to promote tourism in Singapore and keep the country competitive among other Asian nations.
Yet what clearly commenced as a hot-button debate soon fizzled out
, and the popularity of the two casinos has overwhelmed and surprised nearly everyone since. Instead of the word “casinos,” however, Singaporeans refer to their stately pleasure domes as “integrated resorts,” highlighting the casino as just one aspect of a whole range of experiences possible, and the government maintains a National Council on Problem Gambling, which provides information and public awareness about the dangers of compulsive gambling.
Resorts World Sentosa
On February 14, 2010 the Resorts World Sentosa officially opened its doors to a large crowd of excited patrons who were treated to their first sight of the 15,000 square-meter gaming palace, with its 530 gaming tables and 1,300 slot machines. Adding to that, the Resorts World Sentosa also boasts four hotels, the FestiveWalk shopping strip (which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week), more than 60 dining options, and, oh yeah – Universal Studios Singapore. There’s also a marine life park, maritime museum, luxury spa and live entertainment.
Marina Bay Sands
Following immediately after the opening of Resorts World Sentosa, the Marina Bay Sands resort welcomed its first patrons in June of 2010, just eight kilometers north of the Resorts World Sentosa. International superstar and former Destiny’s Child vocalist Kelly Rowland performed, as well as the legendary Diana Ross, setting a glamorous tone for what would prove to be a highly profitable endeavor. The Marina Bay Sands features numerous accommodations, the unparalleled SkyPark with its infinity pool and first-class lounge, the ArtScience Museum and numerous entertainment, shopping and dining options, in addition to the casino.
Success and Continued Strictures
The casinos are sumptuous, decadent places for grown-ups to play with numerous amenities, attractions and more, while the government continues to work hard to provide strict regulations for preventing the “ills” of gambling addiction, while also turning an incredible profit. Indeed, with both the Marina Bay Sands and the Resorts World Sentosa hold the first and second place world records, respectively, for most expensive casino resorts ever built. A year after their initial openings, Singapore’s economy reported significant growth of 14.5 percent. This makes Singapore’s two integrated resorts the most profitable casinos in the world, giving even the gambler’s paradise of Las Vegas a run for its money.
Macau currently holds the number one spot for most sought-after gambling destination, but analysts report that Singapore is well on its way toward overtaking Vegas in popularity and revenue and taking the coveted number two position.
Meanwhile, the Singaporean government continues to take its stance against gambling addiction seriously, beginning with the locals-only levy of $100 (Singaporean) per each 24-hour visit to either casino and with continuing strictures, such as widening bans on “financially vulnerable” citizens.
Maddy Heinrich is a contributing writer and world-traveler who has accompanied her husband, a professional gambler, to over 25 different casinos worldwide. Her favorites include the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Venetian Macao in China and, of course, the Marina Bay Sands.