Monday, December 21, 2009

That Lie

Marina Bay Sands Singapore is supposed to have opened its doors for business this month. That was the original plan, but we all know that plans can change, and in the case of the Marina Bay Sands Singapore (aka Hotel and Casino Resort), the revised opening date is some time in April 2010 though some say that June 2010 is a more realistic date.

April, when April Fools' day falls, is probably not an ideal month to open a Casino, from the gamblers' perspective. But it'll probably be roaring business of a casino though because gamblers are by nature risk takers, fools or not. These revision in schedules show up the lie in the whole Integrated Resort (IR) message. When Singapore went ahead with setting up not one but two casinos, the government insisted that it wasn't casinos per se, but an integration of various entertainment and convention businesses (MICE) that were on the cards, that Singapore isn't transforming itself into a Las Vegas of the East. Casinos were just to be a small part of the whole development. But the latest developments (or probably non-developments) has given the lie to this claim.

When push comes to shove, and it is time for payback. the only most immediately profitable business that must be opened first is the casino. So come April or June next year, or whatever month it eventually opens, the casino business must precede all others. The business / conventions / meeting / entertainment events? Well, they are not Marina Bay Sands' priority, really. From recouping the money point of view (more than S$5 Billion), the casino business is the one and only bet on the table, never mind what the government says about having 50% of the other businesses in place as a condition for the casinos to start operations. But then, starting the casino first makes sense. Nobody would want to have a major meeting event there, or go shopping, and least of all, go there for a stroll when half of the place is still under construction. The dust and dirt will be an instant turnoff. Orchard Road will still be a cooler place to go to, in more ways than one. But gambling? Hey the dirt doesn't matter. When gambling can take place in a back alley as much as it can in a swanky hotel, it is the only sensible thing to do - take the money and run.

So if we want to call a spade a spade, we should just admit that Singapore is close to becoming the betting capital of this part of the world. The rest are just sideshows. The problem is, with the government's liberal policies on immigration, will it attract the 'right' people to this island in the long run? It would appear that climate change is the least of our worries.

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