SINGAPORE: A S$9 billion expansion by Singapore’s two integrated resorts will see Marina Bay Sands (MBS) add a new entertainment arena and hotel tower, while Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will extend Universal Studios Singapore to include two new attractions - Minion Park and Super Nintendo World.
This additional investment by the integrated resorts is almost two-thirds their initial investment in 2006, which was about S$15 billion.
“Since the expiry of the exclusivity period for the two casino licences in 2017, we have been in intense negotiations with the two IRs to keep their non-gaming offerings fresh while limiting the potential downsides of the gaming components,” said Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (Apr 3).
“In exchange for the exclusivity period to be extended to end-2030, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa will invest around S$9 billion to expand and refresh their non-gaming components.”
During this exclusivity period, no other casinos will be introduced.
The expansions will create up to 5,000 jobs, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry in a joint press release with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development.
“The expansion of the IRs is part of our ongoing efforts to rejuvenate our tourism offerings,” said Mr Chan. “We have done reasonably well in the recent past with the development of the Mandai project and plans for the rejuvenation of Orchard Road and the Greater Southern Waterfront.”
As part of the expansion of its non-gaming facilities, MBS will build a 15,000-seat indoor entertainment arena which it said will play a key role in bringing new and repeat visitors to Singapore.
"With leading design and cutting edge technology, the venue will attract top entertainers from Asia and around the world," said Las Vegas Sands, which owns MBS, in a media release on Wednesday.
"Its state-of-the-art production capability will appeal to performers who might not have previously included Southeast Asia on their tours."
In addition, MBS will build a fourth tower which will feature about 1,000 all-suite hotel rooms, a sky roof with a swimming pool as well as a "signature restaurant". There will also be new ballrooms, exhibition halls and food and beverage offerings.
The tower will be located right next to MBS.
Renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who designed the original property, plans to be part of the design team, said Las Vegas Sands.
A timeline for the completion of the resort's expansion is not yet available.
"Marina Bay Sands is an iconic tourism destination that has exceeded all of our hopes in growing leisure and business tourism in Singapore and it is a privilege to receive the Singapore government’s continued support of its development,” said Las Vegas Sands chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson.
“The property has achieved amazing success for both Singapore and our company and we plan to create even more with this expansion.”
As for RWS, there will be two new attractions at Universal Studios Singapore - Minion Park and Super Nintendo World.
Also in the pipeline is an attraction called Singapore Oceanarium - a rebranding of the S.E.A. aquarium after it is expanded by more than three times.
RWS will also add a new waterfront lifestyle complex and two new destination hotels with up to 1,100 rooms.
The entire waterfront promenade will be completely renewed to feature a nightly show and a multi-purpose event zone, said RWS, adding that there will be a new Adventure Dining Playhouse to replace Resorts World Theatre.
To better connect the mainland to Sentosa, there will be a driverless transport system across the Sentosa Boardwalk.
RWS said its expansion will take place in phases, with new experiences opening every year from 2020. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
The company is one of Singapore’s largest private sector employers, with more than 13,000 employees. It said its expansion will create about 2,800 new jobs.
“RWS has been a major game-changer and growth engine in the last 10 years in transforming Singapore’s tourism landscape,” said RWS chief executive officer Tan Hee Teck.
“This major reinvestment and expansion here in Singapore underlines our belief in the business model and the future opportunities that lie ahead when we complete the development.”
ADDITIONAL GAMING PROVISIONS GIVEN
In order for the expanded integrated resorts to remain “commercially viable”, the Government has given both casinos additional gaming provisions.
MBS and RWS are each currently allowed 15,000 sq m of approved gaming area, but they will be given the option to deploy an additional 2,000 sq m and 500 sq m respectively. This is subject to the payment of additional land costs.
While MBS and RWS are currently allowed 2,500 gambling machines, they will be given the option to increase this by 1,000 and 800 respectively.
The two integrated resorts have indicated that these additional provisions will be targeted at “higher-tier non-mass market players, who are mainly tourists”, said the press release.
As non-gaming areas will expand by a much larger amount, the proportion of space taken up by approved gaming areas will drop from 3.1 per cent to 2.3 per cent, authorities added.
Minister Chan said that the two integrated resorts have successfully delivered on the jobs, tourism and economic fronts.
Together, they directly employ more than 20,000 workers, of which more than 65 per cent are Singaporeans.
He added that of the 5,000 new jobs that will be created with the expansion of the integrated resorts, two-thirds are expected to be filled by locals in areas such as marketing, attractions, event operations and hospitality.
“Our experience with the IRs over the last nine years has been a valuable one,” said Mr Chan.
“We believe that the new offerings by MBS and RWS will not only bring about opportunities for our businesses and workers but also provide Singaporeans with more interesting options to live and play.”