said Monday that it would allow two licenses by year end, which needs estimated US$3 billion investment, to build and operate casino resorts and make Singapore a more vibrant place to live and work.
“We cannot stand still. The whole region is on the move,” Lee was quoted by Reuters as saying. “If we don’t change, where will we be in 20 years?”
A website named Casino City has kept a full news list on the process Singapore government made a decision on the gambling legalization. Asian Wall Street said that Singaporeans already spend an estimated S$2 billion, or US$1.2billion, gambling abroad each year including on cruise ships that ply waters just off Singapore, and in Genting Highlands, a casino in Malaysia. Nearly 20 operators, most from Las Vagas, submitted concepts for what Singapore calls an "integrated resort". The new casino resorts will be likely open around 2009.
The reason why giant gambling operators eyeing a Singapore license is that they are not easy to get a license in Macau, the biggest gambling Asian city after Las Vagas in the United States. The government in Macau, the only city in China where gambling is legalised, has already granted three licenses to Macau tycoon Stanley Ho's Las Vegas Sands Corp. , Wynn Resort Ltd and Galaxy Resort & Casino.
One day after the Singapore government legalize the gambling, Galaxy Resort & Casino, one of the three casino operators in Macau, will be sold to the Hong Kong listed company-K. Wah Construction Materials Ltd. for HK$18.4 billion ($2.4 billion) . Both companies are owned by Hong Kong tycoon Lui Che-woo. Galaxy is likely to be the first traded gambling company in Hong Kong.
Lui's family ``needs the money to build their two planned casino resorts,'' said Karen Tang, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Deutsche Securities Asia Ltd, quoted from Bloomberg ``They are using the stock exchange to do that.'' Now, it needs to compete with Singapore, too.
Officials in Hong Kong, the competing city with Singapore in tourism and finance, said on radio that they will not open the door to the gaming industry though Sinapore did that.
The prime minister in Singapore said tourists now stay only for three days in the city, one day less compared with they stay in Hong Kong.
A Chinese friend who first went to Singapore last month told me that Singapore is comfortable with most people speaking Mandarin. "But compared with Hong Kong, it is boring to see so many building with same height, and the newspapers there are not that interesting, too." She said.