Casinos Boost Singapore Economy By 14.7%

If players want to win large amounts of cash at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sand’s casino they must wear red and white to increase their luck at the rival Resorts World Sentosa.

Feng shui expert Danny Cheong strongly believes this and he has become very popular for his skills thanks to last year’s opening of the city-state’s first two casino resorts.

“In the past I used to get clients asking for advice playing the horses or the lottery,” said Cheong, a 50-year-old Singaporean. “The tide has turned since then and everybody is seeking my expert help when it comes to gambling and winning at the casinos.”

Singapore’s two major casino resorts has cost approximately $10 billion to develop and construct, so far it has succeeded in transforming a decade-long island’s economy toward services such as tourism and finance and the emphasis nowadays is less on manufacturing. More than 20,000 jobs have been created by the casinos, it attracted visitors from all corners of the globe and contributed to a 14.7 percent increase in Singapore’s overall economic growth last year, the second-highest in the world of which the highest is Qatar.

Singapore is reaping the benefits from a spike in Asia’s economic growth, with China leading the pack. Nearly all the growth of tourist arrivals last year came from neighbouring countries, for the first time Chinese demand for Singapore’s exports overtook that of the U.S. in 2010.

In order to attract more Chinese visitors the resorts integrated feng shui and other Chinese beliefs. Resorts World opened its casino at 8:28 a.m. on the 14th of February and Marina Bay Sands opened March 27th at 3:18 p.m. since the number eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese Culture. As a result of the recent surge in economic growth in Asia, chiefly in China, Singapore is in a strong position to tap into the present wave of growth from Asia, said DBS economist Irvin Seah.

GDP increased by 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago in comparison to 10.5 percent in the third quarter. The economy grew yearly by 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter after contracting 18.9 percent in the third, the ministry said.

The last couple of decades saw Singapore lose out to low-wage manufacturing to neighbouring economies such as China and Vietnam. Since then it aimed on exporting more value-added goods such as semiconductors and pharmaceuticals. In the fourth quarter manufacturing has increased by a whopping 28 percent from the previous year services which increased by 8.8 percent and construction has dropped by 1.2 percent according to the ministry.

Potentially 2011 could be a very lucrative year for Singapore’s casino resorts, since it will contribute more or less 1.7 percentage points of GDP growth to an economy that Singapore’s DBS bank expects will be slow, but will still increase by a vigorous 7 percent. Singapore’s government predicts an economic growth for 2011 between 4 and 6 percent.

Services are set to outdo manufacturing as the principal provider to growth and gaming as the fastest growing sector will overtake pharmaceuticals, Seah said.

Singapore’s population currently stands at 5 million people it’s approximately the size of New York City, visitor arrivals averaging 1 million per month has increased by 20 percent in the first 11 months of 2010 for the same period in 2009.

Developers plan on expanding the casino resorts this year. Marina Bay Sands, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp., will open the world’s first ArtScience Museum in February and Genting Bhd’s Resorts World will open its Maritime Xperiential Museum later this year, with additional hotels and a marine park.

Singapore’s famous Orchard Road shopping malls have also reaped the benefits from the exponential increase in tourism, whilst spending by visitors has increased to 47 percent to SG$13.7 billion in the third quarter from the previous year.

People such as Cheong a feng shui expert for 22 years has advised foreign companies such as Pizza Hut, Renault and Robinson’s department store how to properly exploit the finer points by means of attracting the right kind of qi or energy.

Gamblers are not afraid to fork out 500 Singapore dollars ($380) for “wealth achievement” sessions, Cheong makes use of complex numerology charts such as the date and time of a client’s birth to provide tips with reference to lucky clothes and which direction to face at a card table; all this to beat the casinos at their own game. There are Singaporeans who are not in favour of gambling and fear the pitfalls it might create from a moral perspective. When Lee Kuan Yew was the prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, he outlawed casinos since it undermined ethic principles. On the contrary Lee’s son, the current Prime MinisterLee hsien Loong, sees the casinos as a potential cash cow that would make Singapore into a world-class city.

Singapore’s government has levied a 24 hour entrance fee of SG$100 or SG$2,000 per annum to local citizens visiting the casino resorts in an effort to curb reckless gambling. The previous year alone saw more than SG$100 million collected in entry fees, suggesting that a large proportion of Singaporeans still hope to hit the jackpot.

Loan sharks have been in the media for all the wrong reasons due to increased harassment of debtors, since last year local authorities began clamping down on illegal lending, often targeting desperate gamblers. The government banned approximately 194 problem gamblers from casinos at the request of family members and more than 2,000 people asked to be barred from entering the casino resorts’ premises.

The majority of Feng shui experts don’t encourage gambling. Adelina Pang, author of “Classical Feng Shui for Homes Today”, said her services are hugely in demand especially by less affluent Singaporeans seeking her advice in how to hit the jackpot.

“I advice people not to gamble and lose their hard earned cash, since I’m very familiar with the ills associated with problem gambling,” Pang said. “I’m very concerned when it comes to the problem gamblers these casinos have created, some people have become so addicted to gambling they’re not taking care of their families anymore.”



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