Tuesday, June 7, 2011

S'pore likely to overtake Las Vegas this year: US gaming head

Posted: 07 June 2011 1840 hrs

MACAU - Singapore is set to overtake Las Vegas as the world's second-largest gambling hub this year, a US gaming industry head said on Tuesday, as Asia cements its place as a major betting market.

Singapore has emerged as Asia's hottest new gambling destination with a revamped cityscape and billions of dollars pouring into the economy, after the opening of two resort casinos in 2010.

The strong growth came after Macau overtook the Las Vegas Strip as the world's biggest gaming hub in 2006 and now boasts a gaming market almost four times as large as that of Vegas, thanks to burgeoning numbers of wealthy Asians.

The two resort casinos in Singapore posted US$5.1 billion in gaming revenues in 2010, a figure forecast to rise to US$6.4 billion this year, according to Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association.

A report citing research by the Royal Bank of Scotland has suggested Las Vegas will take US$6.2 billion this year.

"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 Fahrenkopf.

"The country's gaming market will likely overtake Las Vegas as the world's second-largest gaming centre as early as this year," he told a news conference on the sidelines of the Global Gaming Expo Asia which opened on Tuesday in Macau.

The first Singapore casino opened in Malaysian-controlled Resorts World Sentosa on February 14, 2010, with US-based Las Vegas Sands following two months later as the world economy was still clawing itself out of recession.

Asia's strong growth in the gaming industry stands in sharp contrast to US venues such as the Las Vegas Strip, previously a byword for gambling but which is now suffering the effects of the global downturn.

The Sahara, an iconic Las Vegas hotel that once hosted names such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, closed its doors last month, even as many Asian casinos are planning expansions.

Fahrenkopf said the potential in other Asian countries would also help spur growth, with several multi-billion dollar casino development projects due for completion over the next two years.

"Other developments in Asia are helping to clearly establish the region as the hottest gaming market in the world," he said, noting the sector is expanding at record levels in Cambodia and Laos, while Sri Lanka is set to implement legal gambling next year.

He said the rapid growth in Singapore would not threaten Macau's position, saying the former Portuguese colony has seen "dramatic growth in almost every measurable category", after it opened its doors to foreign competition.

But he urged Macau to deal with labour shortage and infrastructure issues, as well as a cap of 5,500 gaming tables allowed before 2013, which could dampen growth.

Macau's gaming scene was monopolised by tycoon Stanley Ho for decades until it opened to foreign competition in 2002. Since then, a stream of Las Vegas-based gaming companies has flooded into the southern Chinese city.

Gambling revenue in Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, surged to a new record in May with a 42 percent jump year-on-year at 24.31 billion patacas (US$3 billion) - a record high for the fourth month in a row.

"Macau should continue to benefit from strong momentum after the successful opening of Galaxy Macau casino, which is driving visitations," JP Morgan said in reference to the city's newest resort casino, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

- AFP/al

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

‘No casino? I’ll kill myself’

By Ewen Boey | SingaporeScene – Mon, Apr 11, 2011 4:13 PM SGT

Her children tried to stop her from gambling, but she threatened to kill herself.

After a two-hour stand-off on the third day of last Chinese New Year, the children's 51-year-old mother got her way and went back to the casino.

When she returned 24 hours later, she had lost S$7,000.

It was then the children gave up trying to get their mother to quit gambling. She had already racked up debts of more than S$300,000.

Speaking to The New Paper from their four-room HDB flat in Simei, accountant Jayden Liu, 24, said, "Now, we can only pray that a miracle happens before we lose her or the roof over our heads."

He recounted that his mother cried, pleaded and lashed out at her children during that confrontation. She put a stool to the kitchen window and threatened to jump after Jayden's younger sister, Jessie, 16, angrily said that they were considering applying for a family exclusion order to the casinos.

Jayden said, "We weren't sure if she'd really do it, but we couldn't take the risk. We had lost our father (to cancer) six years ago, we didn't want to lose our mother."

Taking up a job at a convenience store last December, Jessie now works Saturdays in order to pay for her math tuition and ease her brother's burden.

She also refuses to take money from him. "He should be dating and not taking on another job after office hours and over the weekends."

Jayden now works part time in a karaoke chain, and more than half his S$3,900 take-home pay goes towards paying relatives from whom he borrowed money to clear his mother's debts.

When asked by the same paper about her children's struggle, the hawker mum said, "I really don't think it's any of their business what I do, even if the creditors come hounding. If they are so unhappy, they can always move out."

On her suicide threat, she added that it was only a threat, and she never really intended to jump.

Charles Lee, a senior counsellor at Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre, was not surprised.

"Normally, when a gambler is in a desperate situation, he will resort to emotional blackmail," he said.

Lee, who is in charge of the problem gambling counselling programme at Tanjong Pagar FSC, said that only trained and experienced counsellors can tell if a threat is real.

"While no one should take it lightly, most times, the threat could be just a threat," he said.

Lee, who has handled such cases before, advised the Liu siblings to seek professional help.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The two casinos in Singapore has created thousands of jobs. Is it worthwhile?