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Singapore Gambles on Casinos
Singapore, which fines chewing-gum importers as much as S$200,000
($122,740) and bans Playboy magazine, is relaxing its opposition to
another vice: gambling.
The island-state plans to build its first casino, reversing a
four-decade ban, as it seeks new industries to replace manufacturers
that are moving to lower-cost China and India. Las Vegas casino
operators Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., MGM Mirage and Wynn Resorts Ltd.
were among the companies that submitted bids for the project on Feb. 28.
Singapore, with an aging population of 4.2 million, has no choice but
to loosen regulations and broaden its economy, says Andy Xie, chief Asia
economist at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,
53, says the casino project is part of Singapore’s plan to stay
“It will make Singapore different, and it’s one of the things which
we must do as we make Singapore develop and grow,” Lee said in an
interview. “We have to be prepared to look at a different world, see a
landscape that’s changing and ask what we need to do to keep up.”
Building casinos may not be enough to fuel growth in a nation where
tourism-related businesses account for just 6 percent of the economy.
Singapore’s efforts to lure more visitors also face competition from
Macau, which has gained an early lead as Asia’s gambling hub.
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2004 Online Casino News Archive