Vegas firm hopes to score Singapore casino with Pele in its team

Las Vegas firm Eighth Wonder is hoping football legend Pele can help it score Singapore’s second casino licence.

A 5,000-seat multi-purpose stadium named after the Brazilian will be part of the „Harry’s Island“ gaming and leisure resort if Eighth Wonder beats out two other contenders for the Sentosa island development, Eight Wonder’s chairman and chief executive Mark Advent said Monday.

Pele will also head the Pele Sports Academy dedicated to developing youth participation in sports.

„Pele will become Harry’s Island ambassador for goodwill, sportsmanship and the pursuit of excellence,“ said Advent.

„The Pele Stadium on Sentosa will be an international beacon and symbol for athleticism, team spirit and personal accomplishment, and showcase Singapore as a premier destination for world class sports and entertainment,“ he said.

Pele said he had agreed to join the bid because of its emphasis on sports facilities.

„I think everybody knows sports is my life. Sports opened a lot of doors in my life,“ Pele said.

„To me, this is something unique,“ he said of Eighth Wonder’s plan.

Eighth Wonder’s proposed Harry’s Island resort is based on a fictional adventurer and explorer dreamed up by Advent. The Las Vegas firm said it is prepared to invest 5.5 billion Singapore dollars (3.5 billion USD) in the project if it wins.

On Sunday, Eighth Wonder said the world’s first cultivated coral reef would be among the other attractions at its development.

Eighth Wonder is teaming up with Australia’s Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd and Hong Kong’s Melco International Development Ltd, who operate together in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, as well as with Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.

Two other parties are bidding for the Sentosa casino licence.

They are Bahamas-based Kerzner International, which has teamed up with Singapore’s CapitaLand, and the Genting International-Star Cruises team, part of Malaysian casino operator Genting Group.

A decision on who wins the Sentosa project is expected in early December.

Singapore’s first casino licence was awarded to Las Vegas Sands, which also has operations in Macau, in May.

Sands says it will invest more than five billion dollars in the Marina Bay project to open in 2009.

The city-state last year lifted a ban on casino gambling and announced plans for two casino complexes featuring gaming and other attractions in a bid to boost its tourist appeal.