Casinos Find Singapore Isn't Wide Open for Business

As the gambling world clamors to expand in heavily restricted Asian gambling markets, Singapore -- soon to be the second-largest gaming city by revenue -- is seen as the best bet around. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) and Genting won the two concessions to build massive casinos there, and competitors want some of the action. But the two casinos are protected (and restricted) until 2017, when competitors may be able to enter.

Steve Wynn recently made his desires for a Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN  ) Singapore casino known. The gaming legend has conquered Las Vegas and is designing his next masterpiece on the Cotai Strip, where Macau's gambling center is headed. You can bet he will do everything he can to make his way into Asia's hottest gaming markets. For now, though, he can talk all he wants; at best he's years from opening a casino there.

Talking about Singapore is one thing, operating there has been something else. As the two players there have found out, you don't want to mess with Singapore gaming regulators.

Party time is over
Las Vegas Sands and Genting have been warned that regulators are preparing to "commence a full-scope inspection of the casinos this year" to crack down on any sloppy operations. Resorts World had to pay $427,000 in fines last month for a variety of minor violations, like paying casino entry levies for media members.

We know that Singapore put the kibosh on Las Vegas Sands' desire to sell its Marina Bay Sands mall until at least 2017, and while companies may be able to bend rules in the U.S. by lobbying, they are finding out there's no wiggle room to the rules set in Singapore.

Still the best bet on the floor
Regulations or not, betting on Singapore casinos is one of the best bets out there. But Las Vegas Sands is the only U.S.-traded stock operating there, and competitors have a long wait to join the game. That doesn't mean that Wynn, Melco Crown (Nasdaq: MPEL  ) , and MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM  ) won't make plenty of profit in Macau in the meantime, they just won't join in on the incredibly profitable gambling boom in Singapore.

Interested in reading more about Wynn Resorts' efforts to get into Singapore? Click here to add the stock to My Watchlist, and My Watchlist will find all of our Foolish analysis on the stock.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of Melco Crown that are covered with call options and has sold put options in Las Vegas Sands. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Melco Crown Entertainment. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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