Singapore casinos produce $6 billion in gaming revenue in 2013; market still trails Las Vegas Strip

To use an Olympics reference, Las Vegas won the silver medal for the second straight year.

Singapore’s two casinos experienced a 3.8 percent increase in gaming revenues during 2013, but it wasn’t enough to carry the island nation past the Strip.

The Marina Bay Sands, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Genting Group’s Resorts World Sentosa produced a combined $6.077 billion in gaming revenues during the year, which fell short of the Strip’s $6.5 billion in 2013.

Both markets were far behind Macau, the world’s largest gaming destination, which produced a record $45.2 billion in gaming revenues last year.

Many analysts predicted Singapore’s two casinos, which opened in 2010, would eventually pass the Strip as the world’s No. 2 gaming market.

Union Gaming Group managing director Grant Govertsen, who is based in Macau, said that event might not happen. Govertsen said Singapore’s mass-market business has slowed while high-end play continues to grow.

“Generally speaking, the mass-market story in Singapore has now entered into a flattish period at best,” Govertsen said. “The VIP story is a bit rosier, although we don’t think VIP (play) in Singapore is likely to be as robust as it is in Macau.”

Govertsen added that Singapore, which collected $5.85 billion in gaming revenues in 2012, would probably retain the world’s No. 3 ranking, at least until casinos are approved for Japan.

“The good news for Singapore is that we don’t view any other Asian markets threatening its hold as the No. 2 gross-gaming revenue market in Asia,” Govertsen said.

Marina Bay Sands collected $3.135 billion of the 2013 total, which was a 6.6 percent increase over 2012. Resorts World’s gaming revenue take was $2.942 billion, a 1 percent increase.

Govertsen said the Genting development, which includes a Universal Studios theme park attraction, is most affected by reduced mass-market action.

“We think growth is likely to remain anemic in a best-case scenario going forward given that the Singapore local’s market is fully penetrated and the government continues to tighten the reins on this segment,” Govertsen said.

Malaysia-based Genting, which is planning to build the $2 billion-to-$7 billion Resorts World Las Vegas on the Strip, told investors this week softness in the Chinese economy could slow the company’s business in Singapore. Genting does not operate a resort in Macau.

“Management is cautiously optimistic on the VIP market,” Wells Fargo Securities gaming analyst Cameron McKnight told investors. “While low hold (percentages) in Singapore has been a consistent theme, we continue to believe it should normalize over time.”

Strip gaming revenues grew 4.8 percent in 2013, the market’s fourth straight annual increase. Last year’s gaming revenue figure was just 5.3 percent behind the Strip’s single-year all-time high of $6.8 billion.

Macau is whole other story.

The Chinese gambling market increased its revenue total by 18.6 percent in 2013 and there are no signs of slowdown in 2014. January’s total revenues grew 7 percent over the previous year. All three Nevada-based companies that operate casinos in Macau — Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Ltd. — are building multi-billion-dollar resort complexes on the region’s Cotai Strip.

Singapore has capped the number of casinos at just two.

In addition to Las Vegas, Genting recently announced it was pursuing a casino resort complex in South Korea.

Most of the major gaming companies, including Genting, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment Corp., have expressed interest in Japan gaming expansion. The government is expected to approve casino development by early summer.

“While this would be, of course, a positive event for the gaming industry, we are less inclined to think of Genting Singapore as being meaningfully ahead of the pack,” Govertsen said.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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