Marina Bay Sands Extension Delayed Again, Will Commence Next Year

Posted on: April 6, 2022, 05:34h. 

Last updated on: April 6, 2022, 12:01h.

Las Vegas Sands needs more time to complete the required expansion of its Marina Bay Sands integrated resort in Singapore. The casino operator will have it after the country approved a new one-year extension.

Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands is currently undergoing an expansion. It doesn’t include a required upgrade, which Las Vegas Sands continues to delay. (Image: Conde Nast Traveler)

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is going through a difficult time. Money is tight despite selling its Las Vegas assets for $6.25 billion earlier this year. This is forcing the company to alter its schedule for certain projects.

One of these projects is Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in Singapore. Part of the money LVS received from its Vegas asset sale will upgrade to the integrated resort (IR). However, a major property expansion, a condition of its exclusive agreement with the country, will have to wait. Again.

LVS Buys More Time

In 2019, LVS agreed to include a major buildout of MBS to keep its gaming exclusivity until 2030. Its upgrades would include a package valued at SGD4.5-billion (US$3.31 billion). However, no one expected the problems COVID-19 would bring at the time.

As a result of the global pandemic and repeated operational closures, LVS and Singapore officials knew that delays were inevitable. The country’s tourism board has now approved a new extension that will give LVS until next April to begin its expansion of MBS.

Under the initial 2019 agreement, LVS had to complete the expansion within eight years. The upgrades, which are not part of ongoing work at the property, will include a new hotel tower, MICE (meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition) spaces, and a live entertainment facility. It isn’t clear if the eight-year deadline to complete the new options has also shifted.

The delays come even as LVS looks to expand elsewhere in Asia. CEO Rob Goldstein recently asserted that the company is holding “interesting conversations” with an Asian country to build an IR. How it will finance the project when it can’t cover its current obligations isn’t clear.

Perhaps the country in question will offer 100% financing to LVS. That would put the company in greater debt, impacting how analysts view its strength.

Restricts Lifted, Recovery Continues

It’s been a long road to stabilization in Singapore following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country still hasn’t reached its destination. It’s getting there, though, and has lifted more health restrictions as the number of positive cases dwindles.

Beginning April 19, bars and clubs can fully reopen after COVID-19 forced their closure two years ago. There are some limitations in place for now. A safe distance of at least 1 meter (3.2 feet) will have to be kept between individuals or groups when masks are off.

Negative COVID-19 tests are also required. These can be antigen rapid tests (ART) or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. In both cases, the test results are only valid for 24 hours. The requirement extends to all establishment guests but is not necessary for employees.

In addition, there will be a 75% capacity limit for large settings or events with more than 1,000 people. These venues will also have to enforce the use of masks. However, those establishments with capacities of under 1,000 won’t endure capacity restrictions.

With a couple of exceptions, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Singapore has steadily declined over the last two weeks. For example, Johns Hopkins University data shows 8,478 new cases on March 24, yet only 3,743 on April 3.

April 4 had no new cases, but April 5 saw a spike to 9,675. Still, this is much lower than the 17,564 daily reported at the beginning of March.