by Adel Awwad
Singapore is one of the world's most successful countries and until recently had strict laws on gambling that restricted the development of casinos in the small city-state. However, with recent changes in the law, Singapore casinos will soon be among the world's most spectacular leisure developments, and plans are afoot to create what is expected to be the most expensive casino and leisure complex in the world. This can only increase the desirability of Singapore as a destination for tourists visiting Southeast Asia and bring more revenue into the country.
Until late 2004, the government of Singapore had tight restrictions on gambling, which meant that there were no casinos in the country. However, there has been a growing realization that casinos are a valuable tourist attraction bringing in welcome revenue, as well as creating jobs for the local economy, and so the rules have been relaxed, paving the way for the building of the country's first casino. The bidding process involved companies from all over the world, and following this period, the Las Vegas Sands Company was selected to build and operate the first of two planned super casinos in Singapore.
The vision for the first of the two huge Singapore casinos is a staggering one; not just a place to gamble, but an entire entertainment district, comprising shopping and leisure amenities, convention facilities, theme parks, theaters, and even museums; an integrated vision that will cost more than $3 billion and is expected to create over 30,000 jobs. The development will be sited on over 50 acres of reclaimed land at the city's waterfront, and it is expected to be completed by 2009. The government is keen to promote Singapore casinos to the large numbers of tourists that visit the country every year, particularly as several other Asian countries are expanding their own casino sectors to cater to visitors, as well as demand from their own public. Indeed, Chinese people are known for their love of gambling, and this applies no less to Singaporeans of Chinese descent, who make up over three quarters of the indigenous population.
A second Singapore casino development is planned for Sentosa, a tourist island off the coast of Singapore, which attracts around two million visitors every year to enjoy its beaches, golf courses, and leisure facilities, not to mention its historical sites including Fort Siloso, a fortification used by the British during the Second World War. As with the first Singapore casino, the Sentosa casino will form the centerpiece of a massive integrated resort designed to attract tourists from around the world and further cement Singapore casinos at the forefront of the Asian tourist market.
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