Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Singapore Expansion Ambitions Crimped by Coronavirus

Posted on: August 5, 2020, 12:23h. 

Last updated on: August 5, 2020, 03:29h.

Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore’s two integrated resorts, will forge ahead with plans to expand non-gaming attractions in the city-state. But those efforts will face delays stemming from the coroanvirus pandemic, according to local officials.

Singapore Expansion Still On For Casinos
Marina Bay Sands, seen here, and rival Resorts World Sentosa will proceed with expansion plans. But local authorities expect delays. (Image: The Straits Times)

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Genting Singapore, the owners of the two venues, previously pledged to spend a combined $3.27 billion to expand non-gaming attractions at the properties. In exchange for those commitments, authorities in the city-state will allow the companies to increase gaming space and exist as a duopoly until at least 2030.

Sands recently said it’s moving ahead with expansion efforts in Macau and Singapore. Those two markets combine for about 85 percent of the company’s annual revenue in a normal operating climate. LVS said it has the financial resources to pursue Asia-Pacific investments and survive 18 months or longer in a zero-revenue environment.

That’s the good news. The bad news is the pandemic will delay enhancements to Singapore’s gaming properties. In an interview with Bloomberg, Singapore Tourism Board CEO Keith Tan said postponements caused by COVID-19 are “inevitable.”

Singapore Slump

MBS and Resorts World Sentosa reopened on July 1 following a shutdown that lasted more than three months, crimping the city-state’s tourist-driven economy in the process.

With the properties operational, Sands and Genting are still contending with various controls, including a 25 percent capacity limit and restrictions on who can gain entry to the integrated resorts. Any locals hoping to enter the gaming properties must be annual levy holders and members of the Sands or Resorts World customer loyalty programs.

Further weighing on the travel and leisure industry’s hopes in Singapore is that the city-state’s borders remain mostly closed. The bulk of travel currently allowed is for business and official government purposes. But there is talk of a bubble with Malaysia that could start later this month. That would be a positive for LVS and Genting, because, after Singapore, Malaysia is the second-largest feeder market for the city-state’s casinos.

Expansions Are Critical

Tan said Singapore is evaluating avenues for luring more corporate and leisure travelers to the country.

Whether it is a broader range of business visitors or, for example, small groups of tightly controlled leisure visitors, all these are being considered and are on the table,” he said in the Bloomberg interview.

Although gaming is obviously the bread and butter of any casino property, both MBS and Resorts World have some of the better non-gaming attractions in the industry. For example, MBS has the Art and Science Museum, Sands SkyPark, and Observation Deck, among other attractions, while the Genting venue is home to Universal Studios Singapore and the S.E.A. Aquarium, golf courses, and a deep-yachting marina.