Singapore has not ruled out the possibility of having more than two casinos in the future, former premier Lee Kuan Yew has said. Local media quoted Lee as saying that there is an „inevitable progression“ towards more gaming revenues in most of Asia and that Singapore would monitor how its current plan worked before deciding its next step.
„Let’s wait and see,“ he told the Singapore media during a visit to Las Vegas on Saturday on the final leg of a two-week trip in the United States. „Every move like this is a bet on the future. We decided to make the bet. We didn’t expect the operators to make such bets on us.“
Lee was referring to Singapore’s decision to legalise casinos last year and allow two „integrated resorts“ to be built to attract more tourists.
The city-state in May awarded the first casino license to Las Vegas Sands for a project on downtown Marina Bay. Sands says it will spend USD 3.2 billion on the casino resort which will be ready in 2009.
Bidding closed this month for the second project on Sentosa island, with three groups in contention. The winner will be announced later this year. Singapore has promised 10 years of exclusivity for the two operators from the date the contract is awarded.
Lee, who has the influential position of minister mentor in the cabinet, toured The Venetian and New York New York casino resorts in Las Vegas and held talks with their top management, the report said. He met with Las Vegas Sands Corp owner Sheldon Adelson, who told him that the bulk of the expected visitors to the Singapore casinos would come from China, India and the rest of Asia.
„Singapore is not Las Vegas. We are not in the middle of the desert and we haven’t got a population of 300 million,“ Lee said, adding that between 85 and 90 percent of the visitors to Las Vegas casinos are Americans.
He also said that Singapore’s gaming industry would thrive despite the presence of Macau, the former Portuguese enclave in China, which already has a booming casino industry. „I have not seen a drop in the number of visitors to Las Vegas because of Macau. I think that those who are making their bets on Singapore believe that, after a while, people who go to Macau will get a bit bored with Macau,“ Lee said.