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IRs to invest S$9b in major ramp-up of attractions; casino exclusivity period extended to 2030

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Singapore's two integrated resorts (IRs) are pumping around S$9 billion in non-gaming investments into building new tourist attractions and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) facilities.

SINGAPORE'S two integrated resorts (IRs) are pumping around S$9 billion in non-gaming investments into building new tourist attractions and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) facilities.

The IR expansions are estimated to create up to 5,000 new jobs and bring in more than half a million additional visitors annually. Marina Bay Sands (MBS) will add a fourth tower adjacent to its existing three towers, the centrepiece of the expansion being a 15,000-seater state-of-the-art entertainment arena. A new luxury all-suite hotel with about 1,000 rooms, topped with a sky roof, will also be added. MBS is also including more MICE space.

Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will expand Universal Studios Singapore with two new immersive environments and enlarge its S.E.A Aquarium to create a new Singapore Oceanarium. Two new destination hotels, together with the expansion of the Central Zone, will add up to 1,100 more rooms to RWS.

Its Waterfront Promenade will be redeveloped to include a space for free public nightly shows and a multi-purpose event zone, as well as accommodate more dining options. To improve accessibility into Sentosa Island, RWS is introducing a driverless transport system across the Sentosa Boardwalk.

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In view of the substantial investment in the IRs, the government is extending the exclusivity period for the two casinos to end-2030. No other casinos will be introduced during that period.

Each IR has also been granted additional gaming provisions. MBS will be given the option to deploy an additional 2,000 square metres (sq m) of approved gaming area (AGA), while RWS will have the option to deploy 500 sq m. Under current rules, each IR is allowed 15,000 of AGA.

MBS and RWS will also be given the option to increase their 2,500 allowable gaming machines to 1,000 and 800 respectively. The IRs have said that the additional gaming provisions will be targeted at higher-tier non-mass market players, who are mainly tourists.

The government is also introducing a tiered casino tax structure with higher tax rates, along with a new 10-year moratorium that will kick into effect in March 2022.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) is currently subjected to tax rates of 5 per cent for premium gaming and 15 per cent for mass gaming. The new structure will introduce two tiers within each category of gaming.

Under premium gaming, the first tier taxes 8 per cent of the first S$2.4 billion of GGR, while the second tier taxes 12 per cent of GGR in excess of S$2.4 billion.

Under mass gaming, the first tier taxes 18 per cent of the first S$3.1 billion of GGR, while the second tier taxes 22 per cent of GGR in excess of S$3.1 billion.

To minimise the social impact of problem gambling, casino entry levies for Singaporeans and permanent residents will be raised by 50 per cent - from S$100 to S$150 for the daily levy, and from S$2,000 to S$3,000 for the annual levy, with a five-year moratorium. The raise will take effect from Apr 4.