Marina Bay Sands Could Experience Singapore Slump as Coronavirus Closures Take Hold

Posted on: March 23, 2020, 08:10h. 

Last updated on: March 23, 2020, 11:46h.

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Singapore’s other marquee tourist attractions could be in for some near-term pain, as the city-state implements border closures at 11:59 p.m. local time Monday to prevent further spreading of the coronavirus.

Marina Bay Sands could be pinched as Singapore closes its borders and limits travel amid the COVID-19 outbreak. (Image: CNN)

The border closure is aimed at preventing short-term visitors from entering Singapore, many of which are gamblers or work pass holders employed in the travel and leisure industries. Prior to the Sunday announcement, short-term travelers from other countries except for China were allowed to enter Singapore. But officials there decided to scrap that policy because treating tourists and non-resident workers afflicted with COVID-19 meant diverting resources away from locals.

Resources were being expended to serve and enforce SHNs (stay-home notices) on them, and if they fell ill, to provide them with medical treatment,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Previously, brief visitors to the city-state were permitted entry, but had to comply with a 14-day stay at home policy.

On Sunday, the MOH confirmed 23 new coronavirus cases, bringing Singapore’s total to 455. Of those 23, 18 were travelers from other parts of Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Of Singapore’s case tally, 144 patients have fully recovered and are no longer in healthcare facilities, while 309 remain hospitalized. Of those in hospitals, most are classified as in “improving” or “stable” condition. But 14 patients are considered to be in critical condition.

Already Taking Action

Just two gaming properties – MBS and Resorts World Sentosa – operate in Singapore. Genting Bhd, parent company of the Resorts World casinos, said earlier this month it was temporarily closing all of its gaming properties to comply with coronavirus prevention efforts around the world.

Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd., the unit of Las Vegas Sands that runs MBS, is opting to keep that premier venue open. But last week it announced a batch of social distancing measures aimed at stemming the spread of the respiratory illness.

Singapore’s government has not gone as far as to mandate that Sands shutter MBS. But the directive limiting short-term visitors could deal a blow to the gaming property because the bulk of visitors to that integrated resort and Resorts World Sentosa hail from other countries.

Singapore Stress

The city-state’s decision to ban foreign visitors comes as the economy is being crimped by the COVID-19 outbreak, and teeters on the brink of recession.

Policymakers are implementing tax breaks for the two integrated resorts. But analysts expect those cost savings will not be enough to make up for lost revenue at the hands of dwindling visits.

Additionally, Singapore isn’t comparable to a market such as Atlantic City, N.J. or Las Vegas, where there’s a significant amount of local gamblers to shore up some of the lost turnover when tourism declines. Locals must pay a daily entry of about $103 to enter MBS and Resorts World Sentosa, or pay almost $2,100 for an annual pass, money they might be reluctant to spend as COVID-19 weakens the economy.