Singapore Casinos Will Reopen July 1, But Restrictions Abound

Gaming News Gaming News

By Todd Shriber

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa – the two integrated resorts in Singapore – will restart gaming operations on Wednesday, July 1 following a more than three-month shutdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic, but plenty of restrictions apply.

For the past few weeks, the two venues operated at partial capacity with no gaming amenities available to visitors. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) signed off on proposals by Marina Bay Sands to restart Art and Science Museum, Sands SkyPark and Observation Deck and casino while Resorts World has the green light to reopen Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium and its gaming floor.

As a further precautionary measure, most attractions will be restricted to no more than 25 per cent of their operating capacity at any one time, for a start,” said the STB.

Earlier this month, the Singapore Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) mandated that two casinos remain closed following a flareup in COVID-19 cases. The venues were originally scheduled to reopen on June 1.

Not Business As Usual

As is the case with other reopening gaming markets, it won’t be business as usual in Singapore for either MBS parent company Las Vegas Sands or Resorts World owner Genting Singapore.

To gain entry to either venue, visitors must be annual levy holders. An added requirement for those seeking admittance to MBS is that they be gold status or higher in the Sands Rewards Club while gamblers wanting entry into Resorts World must be Genting Reward members.

The annual levy is a subscription cover charge of sorts that gamblers pay to enter the city-state’s casinos and it’s a major money maker for the government, generating $1 billion in receipts over the past decade. Last year, policymakers there boosted the annual pass fee to $2,220 from $1,466. There’s a daily fee of about $110 for travelers that aren’t frequent visitors to the gaming properties.

In 2019, MBS and Resorts World combined for approximately $4 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR). After Macau, Singapore is the second-largest market for Sands based on both earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and turnover.

Hopefully, Good Timing

News of the Singapore reopenings comes just days after Moody’s Investors Service forecast that 2020 EBITDA for operators with exposure to the Asia-Pacific region will tumble as much as 70 percent due to travel restrictions and gaming property closures.

The research firm rates deb issued by nine gaming companies operating in Asia-Pacific markets and has the highest ratings on Genting Singapore and LVS.

Still, some analysts see a long road back to normalcy for the two Singapore operators. Citing lethargic international travel and the need for social distancing measures on casino floors, Bernstein said earlier this month Singapore GGR won’t return to 2019 levels until 2023.