Gambling

Singapore Casinos Threatened by Rumored Malaysia Resort

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Posted on: April 26, 2024, 09:20h. 

Last updated on: April 26, 2024, 09:29h.

Singapore’s casino duopoly, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, is facing possible competition for the first time by way of neighboring Malaysia.

Singapore casinos Malaysia Resorts World Genting Sands
A possible casino in Malaysia is threatening Marina Bay Sands (left) and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore. Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is denying that there are considerations for a gaming development in Johor’s Forest City. (Image: Casino.org)

Bloomberg reported that Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim met last week with global casino tycoon Lim Kok Thay, the chairman and chief executive of Genting Group, and lottery gaming magnate Vincent Tan. The billionaire Malaysian businessmen reportedly discussed with the prime minister a casino resort development in Forest City located on the southern end of the Malay Peninsula.

Such a gaming property in Forest City, which is separated from Singapore by the Johor Strait but easily connected to the sovereign city-state via the Second Link Bridge, would presumably dampen the gaming business at Sands and Resorts World.

We think the Singapore casinos would be net losers should Malaysia eventually allow a second land-based casino in Forest City due to their geographical proximity,” Nomura global gaming analysts Tushar Mohata and Alpa Aggarwal wrote.

Genting owns and operates Resorts World Sentosa through its subsidiary Genting Singapore. The firm additionally holds Malaysia’s lone casino license, which it uses at Resorts World Genting in the remote highlands area of Pahang nearly 200 air miles northwest of Forest City.

Genting Impact

Genting Group is a multinational conglomerate that, in addition to casino resorts in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, and the United States, has holdings in real estate, agriculture, and biotechnology. Genting’s casino portfolio is spread across several subsidiaries, with Genting Highlands a unit of Genting Malaysia.

If Genting Malaysia is bestowed a second casino license in Malaysia and opens a resort in Forest City, a scheme that would be expected to revitalize the planned $100 billion affluent community, the Nomura analysts believe the overall impact to the group would be minimalized.

In a scenario that Malaysia allows a Forest City casino and awards the license to Genting, while Genting Singapore will be still negatively impacted, the net impact on Genting Malaysia and Genting Group will depend on which entity builds the casino, but the eventual impact on the group should be less negative, in our view,” the Nomura note reasoned.

Anwar denied the Bloomberg report that he met with Kim and Tan about a Forest City casino. Calling the story “not true” and “a lie,” gaming expansion talks have long been unpopular among the heavily Muslim populace.

IR Gold Standard

Marina Bay Sands has long been cited as the “gold standard” of the integrated resort industry, the concept of a destination being all-encompassing where guests need not venture off the property’s grounds during their stay. MBS is Sands’ most valuable property and is considered the world’s richest casino.

Last year, Sands and RW Sentosa combined to win S$5.25 billion (US$3.7 billion) from gamblers. Singapore’s casino industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as the city-state only fully lifted its coronavirus protocols in early 2023.

The $3.7 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR) represents only 67% of the $5.9 billion the two casinos generated in prepandemic 2019.   

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