Casino Wars Hit Asia; Not So Friendly, by Greg Tingle - 30th June 2010

Readers er punters, casino billionaires, gaming PR's, journalists, insiders and everyone else... Think casino wars were just limited to the Las Vegas Strip and Australia re Crown Casino VS Star City Casino? Think again. Media Man and Gambling911, along with the trusty Dragon Slayer, take you on a journey of the orient and learn that the casino wars are not quite as friendly as they are down under in Australia...

The latest casino war in the Asia Pacific is happening before our eyes in downtown Singapore.

Enter Marina Bay Sands, worth about $5.5 billion and just enjoyed its grand opening on June 23, is the second most expensive casino property in the world and sports 2,560 hotel rooms spread among three towers. (Folks, its 2nd only to CityCenter in Las Vegas, at about $8.5 billion, cost more to build.)

In the red corner...Resorts World Sentosa, which cost "only" $4.4 billion and opened its casino in February. Resorts World Sentosa has four hotels, including the first designed by Michael Graves already open, with 1,350 rooms combined. Two more hotels with 500 rooms are planned. What will be the occupancy rates %, and will the house still always win?

Things work a bit different in Singapore to that in Vegas or Australia.

Fox example locals have to pay through the nose to enter. Local wives can even apply to have their husbands banned from gambling. Stricter dress regulations also... no shorts in the casino thank you.

Marina Bay Sands’ high-roller corridor has restaurants from Japanese-born Australian sensation Tetsuya Wakuda and two Michelin-crowned chefs: Ferran Adria-hater Santi Santimaria of Spain, and Parisian pastry-lover Guy Savoy.

A Pangaea nightclub, sitting on a floating pavilion on Marina Bay is eye catching. Marina Bay Sands has more of a professional (not that type of pro) feel. Corporates are invited by 1.3 million square feet of meeting/exhibition space.

Resorts World Sentosa is more Party Time, with its Universal Studios theme park, easy beach access and lodging options including a Hard Rock and the family-friendly Festive Hotel, offering rooms that can sleep between 6 and 8 people.

Resorts World Sentosa also sports world class chefs and kitchen. Joel Robuchon, Susur Lee, Australia’s Scott Webster and Japan’s Kunio Tokuoka. The complex has been compared to Foxwoods plus.

Table games are all the rage having about double of Marina Bay Sands.
But this high-stakes tussle is just beginning.

Singapore is well aware of the action in Macau as well as Sydney and Melbourne, enjoying recent million dollar revamps, the Lear Jets et al, and are not going to lie down without a fight. The ultimate catch is "whales", and friendly government regulation along with solid relationships are also strategic keys.

The developments unfold as American casino kings such as Steve Wynn talk of moving more of their operation and overall business to the Orient, not overly impressed with the 'O' administration.

Aussie James Packer however is staying on the very good side of Australia state and federal governments, and by all accounts, Macau and his City Of Dreams looks to be enjoining its dream run, after a period of uncertainly.

Swing back to the U.S and Atlantic City isn't looking too good. The industry says AC has failed to adapt to the times very well, and they haven't been able to plug into internet based opportunities as well as many. Maybe some AC casinos could do with the internet consultancy from the likes of Gambling911 and / or Media Man. Basic websites and being listed on Google Earth isn't delivering the world to them.

This fast paced war isn't over yet, but the chess game is well on the way.

Punters, some Art Of War type quotes for potential use next time you meet a casino billionaire...

"Internet is like electricity" (James Packer)

"Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow" (Rupert Murdoch).

"In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed" (Charles Darwin)

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Wrap Up...

Readers, your predictions? Tell us in the world famous Gambling911 forums, unless your 'Great Firewall Of China' prevents you.

*The writer is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a bakers dozen of sectors they cover.

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