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Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Asia fertile for Las Vegas-style casinos: tycoon

AFP , SINGAPORE

Las Vegas Sands chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson, left, looks at a model of the planned Marina Bay Sands Casino resort during a ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of the casino-integrated resort in Marina Bay, Singapore, yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

Backed by growing economic affluence, Asia has room to house eight to 10 Las Vegas-style strips offering gaming and entertainment facilities, US casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson said yesterday.

"There is probably room for 10 Las Vegases throughout Asia," said Adelson, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands which won a license to build one of Singapore's two integrated gaming resorts.

Adelson was speaking at a news conference marking the start of construction of its US$3.2 billion Marina Bay Sands resort scheduled to open here in 2009.

Adelson said there was no "integrated resort" in Asia offering entertainment and casino attractions like the ones Singapore is planning.

"Now perhaps 10 is not the answer; maybe it's eight, but the point is that the market in Asia is so fertile and there's never been a destination resort ever nor has one ever been thought of, with all the entertainment elements of an integrated resort such as here in Singapore," he said.

Led by the southern Chinese enclave of Macau, Asia is witnessing a boom in the gaming sector as the region looks to new, glitzy Las Vegas-style casino complexes offering entertainment and exhibition venues to attract more tourists and business travelers.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has overtaken the famous Las Vegas strip as the world's top gambling destination by revenues, with earnings last year soaring 22 percent to a whopping US$7 billion.

Las Vegas Sands was the first foreign gaming firm granted a license to operate in Macau.

Singapore in 2004 lifted its longstanding ban on casino gambling and last year awarded two licenses to Las Vegas Sands and Malaysia's Genting International to build two gaming resorts.

The two projects are the linchpin of Singapore's efforts to spice up its appeal to tourists, as well as beef up its position as a regional venue for business conventions.

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