The State Of Casino Business In East Asia
Most countries in Asia have long opposed public casino gambling due to social and political considerations. But, now the positive economic fallouts of doing this are forcing the governments to come out with supportive legislations and actions for promoting this industry. The success of the story of “Macau in the Far East” is being replicated everywhere. Some of the recent developments point in this direction.
The Case Of Singapore
Beginning Chinese New Year (14 February, 2010), the first casino in Singapore, Resort World Casino, on Sentosa Island opened to a huge rush of visitors. Built at a cost of $6.6 billion on forty nine hectares of land, the resort includes a Universal Studios theme park, hotels, world’s largest marine park oceanarium and a convention centre.
Close on the heels of this first opening, a second casino− the Marina Bay Sands, owned by the world renowned Las Vegas Sands casinos is scheduled to open in April. Each of these integrated casino resorts is expected to contribute 0.5-1% to the GDP of this city state and provide employment to about 20,000 people. It is also expected to stimulate the tourist industry.
Vietnam Is Also A Contender
Vietnam casino operations began a long time ago. Recently, a Vancouver based hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners has come up with a plan to open and operate a Las Vegas style casino resort in a coastal strip of Vietnam called the Ho Tram Strip by 2013. To oversee the financing and construction of this resort, the investment group has hired Llyod Nathan, the former president of the famed MGM Mirage. This $400 million, 1000-room resort will be called Mirage Grand Ho Tram.
Laos Is A Winner In Thai-Cambodia Tussle
Gambling is not legal in Thailand. Therefore, the Thai gamblers used to go to Cambodia, till recently. However, the political tussle between the two governments over the cancellation of oil-and-gas MOU by Thailand with the Cambodian government has shifted the gambling fortunes of Cambodia in favor of a neighboring country, Laos. The Laotian gambling has long catered to the Chinese tourists and gamblers when this was banned in China. Now, the country is also witnessing a heavy influx of the Thai with a 20-30% increase for gambling purposes.
The Thailand government has long been toying with the idea of legalizing this industry but it has not been able to carry it out due to political reasons. Many casinos on the borders with neighboring countries offer gambling opportunities to the Thai people. Also, there are semi-casinos operating illegally within Thailand but the authorities are quick to crackdown rendering them unsafe. But, the situation is likely to change in the light of other countries of the region promoting casino gambling.
Land based casino gambling is poised to grow in the next few years to come as this industry finds new markets in East Asia with attractive potential. The countries which are reluctant to opening their doors will find themselves lagging behind economically and may even lose the tourist business.