Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sand In My Face
Casino IR Goes To Las Vegas Sands

Well, it was supposed to be between MGM and Harrah, since both have local partners in Capital Land and Keppel respectively. It cannot be that Sands have a highly superior proposal, can it?!! I mean, MGM and Harrah also busted their guts, and all things being equal, surely the ones with local partners should get it. Assuming the submissions are almost equal in attractiveness, the fact that Sands got it may mean:

a) the committee wants no local players to be involved
b) that automatically means Genting will be the frontrunner for Sentosa

I still think giving it to Sands is a mistake because Sands investments in Macau is a few times bigger than the Marina Bay IR - however you want to cut it, priority and preferential treatment will go to Macau, be it entertainment, high rollers, incentives, etc.... Sands have more to lose if Macau fails than the Singapore project. Giving it to just a foreign company with no local participation will start to grate on Singaporean nerves should Sands start reporting net profits of S$500 million or more a year. A gaming outfit always have the odds in favour of the house, Singaporeans will start getting pissed off if Sands and Genting IRs start to rake in hundreds of million of Sing dollars a year, mostly at the expense of Singaporeans with little going back to charity. This is so unlike Singapore horse racing or Singapore Pools where bettors know their losses are going to good projects locally. Bad vibes.

The Nusajaya Disney project if announced may actually thwart Genting's chances - surely they do not want to see two big Malaysian companies have a huge slice of the action in southern Johor and Singapore. Hmmm... for those who fear that the attrition on Sentosa IR will be greater if Disney does go to Nusajaya - on further deliberation, having Disney in Nusajaya will actually result in a multiplier effect for both Malaysia and Singapore tourism, feeding off each other.

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