Marina Bay Sands set for billions in upgrades

By Mia Chapman Updated
Details emerge about Marina Bay Sands’ Singapore expansion

Marina Bay Sands is set to receive $1 billion in upgrades with parent company Las Vegas Sands set to splash the cash on the Singapore casino.

Sands has already begun a $1 billion “renovation project” of the hotel accommodation at its resort in Singapore.

Chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Robert Goldstein confirmed the massive project, saying the upgrade will bring “luxurious suite products” to the property.

He added that the new endeavour will “significantly enhance” the company’s appeal to premium clients.

It has long been thought that Singapore had the potential to become a casino powerhouse.

That goal hasn’t been realised, but changes in Macau and its approach to gambling could serve as a catalyst to grow Singapore’s casino status.

Singapore spending highlights potential in local casino market

Spending more than $4.4 billion of upgrades by Sands wouldn’t have been done without careful consideration of what the future holds, analysts said.

Las Vegas Sands has had to slow down on upgrades to its Singapore property in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has received extended exclusivity from the local government in return for promised upgrades.

The expansion work is on track for completion by 2026.

In the group’s third-quarter earnings presentation in 2021, it stated the target was 2025.

Alvin Tan Sheng Hui, Singapore’s Minister of State, Trade and Industry stated that it was unclear if the city’s planned expansion of its two integrated resorts will face further delays.

Sanford C Bernstein brokerage analyst Vitaly Umansky confirmed the new funding was in addition to an original $3.3 billion commitment.

He’s confident the investment will be worthwhile, saying that they will “yield good returns” once complete.

The annual tax rate for mass gross gaming revenues in Singapore will change from a flat rate of 15 per cent to an 18 per cent rate starting in March.

This applies to the first US$2.29 billion of GGR collected by the operator.

Mass GGR exceeding that amount will be subject to a 22 per cent tax.

GGR of premium or VIP status is currently subject to a flag rate of 5 per cent in Singapore.

The new tiered model will see the first US$1.77 billion worth of GGR taxed at eight per cent.

Premium GGR above that will be subject to 12 per cent tax.

Sands stated in its most recent presentation deck to investors that it expects to receive cash from the $6.25 billion sale of its Las Vegas properties, including Sands Expo and The Venetian.

It also anticipates that these transactions should finalise by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

Police burst Singapore illegal gambling ring

A sophisticated gambling syndicate that ran for five years in Singapore has been uncovered.

Between 2011 and 2016, Seet Seo Boon, 56, managed the remote gambling business through two main websites, and

Together with siblings Seet seow Huat and Seet Sian Thian, Seo Boon recruited and instructed at least 49 shareholders, agents and administrative staff.

These recruits in turn roped in other agents and collected illegal bets from punters in a sophisticated and large scale operation.

“In this manner, the accused meticulously organised and expanded the syndicate’s operations, successfully turning it into a profitable, money-making enterprise with its estimated ill-gotten revenue exceeding one million Singapore dollars per week,” the prosecution said during Seo Boon’s plea guilty motion on December 8.

Seo Boon is the first of the brothers to plead guilty to his charges, which include those under the Organised Crime Act, Common Gaming Houses Act, Remote Gambling Act and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Act.

Seow Huat and Sian Thian’s cases are pending before the court, while another brother, Seow Meng, is on the run, according to the defence.

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