|By Kevin Tan, The Straits Times,
Singapore / Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 08, 2011--SINGAPORE -- Singapore's two casinos, in operation for just over a year, are poised to overtake a name synonymous with gambling the world over: Las Vegas.
Their stunning success was highlighted by Mr Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, on the sidelines of a gaming conference in Macau.
Mr Fahrenkopf predicted that the casinos at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Marina Bay Sands (MBS) would see combined revenues of US$6.4 billion this year, up from US$5.1 billion last year.
The revenue for Las Vegas last year was US$5.8 billion.
Macau, with about three dozen casinos, is the world's largest gaming hub after leapfrogging Las Vegas in 2006.
The Chinese city, which attracts a large number of wealthy players from the Asian region, raked in US$23.5 billion in casino revenue last year. The figure is expected to grow by between 25 per cent and 50 per cent this year, said Mr Fahrenkopf.
It is going to be an extremely good year in Singapore and Macau, he was quoted as saying by Associated Press.
If Mr Fahrenkopf's prediction about Singapore is accurate, the world's second-largest gaming hub after Macau would also be in Asia.
"Now more than a year old, the two integrated resorts in Singapore have exceeded all expectations and turned the nation into Asia's second global gaming superpower," said Mr Fahrenkopf.
"The country's gaming market will likely overtake Las Vegas as the world's second-largest gaming centre as early as this year."
A report citing research by the Royal Bank of Scotland indicated that Las Vegas would earn US$6.2 billion this year, according to Agence France-Presse.
Las Vegas is considered to be a mature market without much more growth potential.
To take the No. 2 spot, Singapore's integrated resorts would need a big surge in earnings for the rest of the year.
In the first quarter of this year, RWS, which opened in February last year, saw its revenue rise to S$913.6 million (US$742.6 million), a big jump from S$334.8 million for the same period a year ago.
MBS, which opened two months later in April last year, reported revenue of S$719.4 million for the three months to March 31.
The casinos, part of the attractions at the two integrated resorts, have been described as remarkable successes in Singapore's attempt to rejuvenate its tourism sector. The sector posted strong growth across the board in the first quarter of this year, with visitor arrivals hitting record highs.
The bulk of the visitors came from the Asia-Pacific region, with China, Australia, Indonesia and India together accounting for 53 per cent of tourist arrivals last year.
Total tourism receipts amounted to S$4.98 billion, with the sightseeing and entertainment component, which includes gaming, posting the highest growth of 321 per cent.
Las Vegas, which has been struggling to attract punters despite its decades-old brand name, has been on the decline in recent years.
A combination of poor job figures, an ailing American economy and stiff competition from Asian rivals Macau and Singapore has shrunk its share of the gaming pie.
RWS and MBS declined to comment when contacted by The Straits Times.
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Straits Times, Singapore / Asia News Network
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