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Thu, Aug 30, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Cost of Singapore casino could swell by US$1.44 billion

AFP , SINGAPORE

The cost of Singapore's first casino development could balloon by up to 40 percent in a struggle to keep the project on budget, reports said yesterday.

The Today newspaper quoted the chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands as saying the original US$3.6 billion cost of the development could swell by as much as US$1.44 billion.

The cost could rise by "20 to 40 percent," Las Vegas Sands president and CEO William Weidner was quoted as saying in Macau.

He spoke to Singapore reporters at the opening of the company's US$2.4 billion Venetian Macao, the world's largest casino-resort.

"We're struggling, quite frankly, to stay within our budget" on the Singapore project, the Today quoted Weidner as saying.

The project was already one of the world's largest investments for a single integrated gaming resort.

Weidner cited escalating building costs, sparked by an Indonesian ban on sand exports, as well as refinements to the design.

"It's a very, very complicated and sophisticated building ... now that we try to execute it in concrete and steel, it's a bit of a challenge," Weidner said.

"We're looking for means and methods to construct it more efficiently," he said.

The waterfront development, known as Marina Bay Sands, is to feature three 50-story hotel towers which curve upwards in a design by Moshe Safdie and Associates.

In January, Indonesia banned the export of land sand to Singapore. Stricter checks by the Indonesian Navy on barges bound for the island republic disrupted granite supplies as well.

Sand and granite are both key ingredients for concrete.

Singaporean Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan (馬寶山) told parliament in February that the Indonesian sand ban would not slow down the city-state's resurgent construction industry.

As well as gaming space, Marina Bay Sands is to feature 100,000m3 of convention and exhibition space -- one of the largest such facilities in Asia -- as well as an "ArtScience Museum."

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