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Japan, Singapore: Casino operators pull back on development plans and expect delays on expansion following global health crisis

As the most powerful of nations feel the negative effects of the pandemic, numerous plans are now being altered to adapt to the unexpected changes. Being one of the hardest hit regions, economies in Asia are struggling to recover from the devastating impact the whole coronavirus situation has brought to light. The gaming industry has suffered tremendously given its close contact operations and non-essential nature causing a huge downfall in revenue as compared to its previous years. Moreover, expansion plans will inevitably experience delays as the challenges faced by the construction sector continue to ensue.

Singapore casino expansion plans delayed

Marina Bay Sands Singapore. Credit: Visit Singapore

Singapore’s two integrated resorts (IR) Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa announced its SGD 9 billion (USD 6.6 billion) expansion plans last year but were questioned most recently as the two remained shut down beyond the two-month circuit breaker closure. Marina Bay Sands reportedly racked up a USD 113 million for the second quarter of 2020 while fellow Resorts World Sentosa was seen in the middle of a retrenchment exercise speculated to have cost 2,000 staff their jobs.

Heavily affected by the crisis, both resorts revealed that expansion plans would still push through and are slated for completion by 2023 for Marina Bay Sands and 2025 for Resorts World Sentosa.

However, chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board Keith Tan revealed in an interview with Bloomberg Television that, “There will be inevitable delays because of the circuit breaker we have experienced earlier, and there is an overall slowdown in construction activity because of difficulties being faced by the construction sector and the challenges they are facing with their workers and their workforce.”

He added that, “both Genting [Singapore Ltd] and Marina Bay Sands [Pte Ltd] have not indicated any slippage of their investment commitments here in Singapore. I see that as a good sign of their faith and confidence in the longer-term tourism prospects of Singapore.”

MBS’ parent company Las Vegas Sands (LVS) chief executive Sheldon Adelson supported the revelation saying, “These delays are principally related to the impact of the pandemic, and we will provide additional updates in the future as conditions are continuing to evolve,”. Marina Bay’s SGD 4.5 billion (USD 3.3 billion) expansion will cover a fourth hotel tower, an entertainment arena and additional events space.

On the other hand, Genting Singapore released in a press statement that the expansion of Resorts World Sentosa would be “delivered in phases with new experiences opening every year from 2020 to a projected completion around 2025”.

Wynn Resorts reconsiders Japan’s plan

Wynn Casino. Credit: The Architect’s Newspaper

While some major operators are fortunate enough to follow up on initial plans, the future impact of Covid-19 has left gaming giant Wynn Resorts Ltd. rethinking strategies best to tackle the post pandemic market. Prior to the unforeseen outbreak, United States-based Wynn Resorts has been working on establishing an integrated resort eight times the size of its Encore Boston Harbor casino located in Massachusetts. Revealed as the “Yokohama focus”, Wynn Resorts was on a campaign to win a Japan casino license and partner with the Japanese city to develop and operate a “unique” establishment.

Unfortunately, Bloomberg reported earlier this month that its Yokohama office has now closed after having only opened December of last year. While Wynn may seemingly be drawing back at present, the company remains committed to landing a spot in the prime country. Given Japan’s population and wealth, the nation has been considered one of the biggest prizes in the industry eyed to highly profitable in the long run.

“The pandemic is having an unprecedented negative impact on integrated resort development, and resort companies such as Wynn are considering how we evolve our operations to align with a post-pandemic market,” the company said in a statement. “Long-term, we remain interested in the Japan integrated resort market and will monitor the situation closely.”

Despite the ongoing global pandemic, other reasons such as the delay in the publication of the national basic policy on integrated resorts have caused gaming investors to pull back. The need to add infection control measures to the policy was cited as a factor, according to reports. To date, all four candidate locations to develop an IR in JapanYokohama, Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama, have announced the postponement of their application processes due to the uncertainty and impact of Covid-19.

Janette Dee

Janette Dee

Graduated from De La Salle University, Janette works as a full time teacher in Manila, Philippines. She has long joined the local poker community as a recreational player for the last decade. Having a natural love for the game, she decided to branch out into a different avenue of poker. Currently, Janette works for Somuchpoker as a content writer reporting local and international news for the site.

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