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Singapore sees delays in casino expansion

Singapore Tourism Board CEO Keith Tan said he expects the island nation’s two IRs to move ahead with their plans to expand their resorts, but that delays are “inevitable” given the Covid-19 situation.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television Tan pointed to a slowdown in construction activity due to the crisis. Under the original timetable the works were to have been completed by 2025.

Marina Bay Sands and Genting Singapore are planning to invest S$4.5 billion each to expand their non-gaming attractions in return for an expansion in their gaming floor and gaming machines. They have also had their license exclusivity extended until 2030. However, the downside comes with higher taxes from 2022 and an immediate hike in casino entrance fees.

Tan said Singapore is trying to attract a wider range of business and leisure visitors to boost the tourism sector and warned the return of mass travel is a long way off. 

"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," Tan told Bloomberg. He added that the tourism board is discussing with the Government to expand green lane arrangements, now in place with Malaysia and China, to a broader range of visitors.

The country's borders remain largely shut to external arrivals. Visits in June reached 2,200, down from 1.6 million in the same month last year. The green lane arrangements currently only allow for business and official travel, subject to testing.

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