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MACAU BUSINESS

million people in a small space. Sydney has one casino with 4.5 million people plus slots in pubs. That casino is hard to get to, but it still does well.” Singaporeans are among the region’s richest

people, with household incomes around US$50,000 (MOP400,240), and 80 percent live in government- subsidized Housing Development Board flats. “Because of subsidized housing, the amount of

disposable income is pretty high,” nightlife mogul Dennis Foo says. Singapore residents will have to pay a casino entry

tax to the government of S$100 (MOP563) per day or S$2000 per year but that’s not expected to curtail the market substantially. A government survey found more than half of

Singaporeans already gamble – on local lotteries, horse racing, cruise ships, overseas casinos, or mahjongg – and they’re likely to expand the habit at the IRs. “We expect the local mass market will contribute

40 percent of [gaming] revenues,” CLSA Head of Asian Gaming and Retail Research Andrew Fischer says. “We believe there is a lot of pent up demand for

gaming and will not impact consumer spending too drastically. However, we do believe that spending by locals will end up being significantly above current expectations and have long term implications for consumer spending and savings and investments.” The local market may be the most critical

component for non-gaming spending, which could match gaming revenue estimated at US$2.5-3.5 billion. (See Off The Table, page 121) But IGamiX Managing Partner Ben Lee warns against excessive optimism. “Chinese consumers are value seekers. Free is always better.” He adds, “You can spend a lot of money trying to educate a market. Or you can give them what they want.”

Premium players

The biggest gaming question is how much high

rollers will contribute to Singapore’s gaming revenue, and it’s a make-or-break item for the IRs. Tough government junket regulations won’t help.

14 APRIL 2010

Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA)

requires, among other things, that junket guests register their visits with Singapore authorities in advance, destroying the anonymity from government scrutiny most premium players crave. That provision either betrays the government’s

gross misunderstanding of high rollers or a concerted effort to banish junket operators from Singapore. It also may reveal a mistaken belief that Asian

casinos can attract VIPs without help from junket operators. “There’s a joke that an applicant for marketing

director comes in and says he has a list of 2,000 independent premium players,” veteran Asia Pacific gaming executive Felix Ling, currently a senior partner at Platform Asia, says. “That’s the joke. Those independent premium

players don’t exist. If there are no junkets, it’s tough to make the numbers the IRs need,” Mike Bolsover, CEO at regional digital casino operator Silver Heritage, says. Others think that Singapore’s low tax rate – 12

percent for premium play revenue – its location and attractiveness as a travel destination will draw high rollers, with or without junkets. “This is a very creative industry and solutions are

always found,” AG Leisure Managing Director Sean Monaghan says. “Singapore’s five hour flight radius has the biggest

gamblers in the world,” according to Saint James Power Station’s Foo. “We’ve got a world class airport, infrastructure, and

security, so I think they’ll come here.”

Customer service

“I’m not a gambler, but I do play. I choose a casino

by level of service,” Taiwan Gaming Management Director Hossein Asadi says. Customer experience will be the key to growth of

overall tourism in Singapore. Philippine casino resorts already market their smiling service, in contrast with nearby destinations (even though much of the staff there is Filipino). Menu’s Devin Kimble warns that low entry level pay Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46
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