By Kien Lee
Las Vegas Sands announced late yesterday (Singapore time) that it has reached an agreement with the Singapore government for a bold expansion plan of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
This company revealed it will quickly begin work on the new project. Located immediately adjacent to the existing Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort (IR), the key elements of the development will be a state-of-the-art 15,000-seat arena, a luxury hotel tower and additional MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention, and Exhibition) space.
According to an article by CNA, Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing revealed the arrangement will see both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa retain their exclusivity as the only two integrated resorts in Singapore, following the expiry of said exclusivity period in 2017, extended to end-2030. In return for being the only two casinos in the country, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa will invest around S$9 billion to expand and refresh their non-gaming components.
The article also reveals that the Singapore Government has given both casinos additional gaming provisions, with Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa each currently possessing 15,000 square metres of approved gaming area, with an option now to add 2,000 square metres and 500 square metres, respectively. The two casinos currently operate 2,500 gambling machines, and they also have the option now to increase their totals by 1,000 and 850, respectively.
Since opening in 2010, Marina Bay Sands has attracted more than 330 million visitors. The property has brought over 700 new MICE events to Singapore since opening and hosted 3,680 events at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in 2018 alone.
The new 15,000-seat arena will play a key role in bringing new and repeat visitors to Singapore. With leading design and cutting edge technology, the venue will attract top entertainers from Asia and around the world. Its state-of-the-art production capability will appeal to performers who might not have previously included Southeast Asia on their tours.
The additional hotel tower will feature approximately 1,000 all-suite rooms, with its own sky roof with a swimming pool that will rival the existing SkyPark atop Marina Bay Sands. In the plans are also a dramatic atrium and terraces along with exciting food and beverage offerings and a combination of meeting rooms, ballrooms and exhibition halls.
Moshe Safdie who designed the original property, Aedas and Gensler will join the team responsible for the design elements of the building.
The current total projected budget for the expansion is approximately $3.3 billion (S$4.5 billion) and a timeline for its completion is not yet available.
Jobs for Singaporeans
On the jobs front, Minister Chan also revealed that the two integrated resorts together employ more than 20,000 workers, with 65 per cent of those being Singaporeans. Of the 5,000 new jobs that will be created with the expansion plans of the two integrated resorts, roughly the same proportion will be expected to be filled by Singaporeans in areas including marketing, attractions, event operations and hospitality.
Increased Levy for Locals in Effect
At the same time, the government has also announced an increase in levies by 50 percent for Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents (PRs) who wish to enter the casinos, effective from Thursday 4 April 2019. This is a move by the government to maintain its stance on keeping problem gambling under control. The 24 hour "daily" levy for Singaporeans and PRs will increase to S$150 from S$100 previously, while the annual levy will rise to S$3,000 from S$2,000.
Increase in Taxes on Gaming Revenues
According to CNA, taxes on gaming revenues will also be increased after the current moratorium expires in February 2022. Currently, the gross gaming revenue is taxed at 5 per cent for premium gaming and 15 per cent for mass gaming. The new 10-year moratorium will see a tiered tax structure with rates between 18 per cent and 22 per cent for mass gaming, and from 8 per cent to 12 per cent for premium gaming.
If the integrated resorts do not meet the abovementioned investment commitments, then the maximum flat tax rate of 22 per cent for mass gaming revenues revenue, and 12 per cent on premium gaming revenue, will kick in.