Friday 21 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (May 18): Genting Singapore has confirmed its interest in developing an integrated resort (IR) development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as per its executive chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay’s comments to shareholder queries at the gaming group’s annual general meeting (AGM) last Friday.

His comments were included in the minutes of Genting Singapore’s AGM in response to questions from shareholders on the company’s international expansion plans.

Minutes of the AGM were uploaded on the Singapore Stock Exchange website.

When asked by a shareholder if it would be interested in bidding to develop an IR in the UAE, Lim explained that bid conditions in Singapore, where the company runs Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), were for an IR rather than just for a casino.

He also said that for its upcoming RWS 2.0 expansion, “a big part of the investment should not be viewed as casino expansion but an expansion of non-gaming offerings in alignment with Singapore’s strategy to become an event-driven tourist destination”.

Lim said that there was a “landscape change in [the] global gaming industry” and that he expects more countries will follow Singapore's example in favouring IR developments.

“In this respect, the company is well positioned, due to it being a Singapore company and its experience with IRs, to pursue IR project bids,” he said.

For investment into the UAE, Lim noted that “an international tender for a casino-only development is unlikely” and that Genting Singapore “would be happy to work on an IR development in the Middle East, leveraging the company’s experience in non-gaming offerings”.

Separately, Lim was more guarded in relation to Thailand, preferring to wait until details around the regulatory framework are made clear, and pointed to the company’s recent experience in Japan.

Genting Singapore had been a frontrunner to win an IR licence in Yokohama before a change of governor saw the city suddenly withdraw from the race in September 2021.

Lim described the company’s decision to subsequently withdraw from the Japan process altogether as “the right one”.

“Until there is more visibility on the terms and conditions for legalising gaming in other jurisdictions such as Thailand, the company will continue to monitor what is happening outside of the home market,” he said.

Lim pointed out that the Thai gaming legislation had passed only recently and was still “very general and lacked specific detail on rules and regulations and the bidding process”, and that it would therefore be necessary for “crucial details to be firmed up such as locations and whether local residents would be allowed to gamble or not” before the company could decide if it should consider a bid.

The gaming industry veteran also opined that should the company opt in favour of bids in Thailand or the UAE, he did not expect the Singapore government to object.

He said the government will “generally not interfere with investment decisions of its corporate citizens” but “given the company’s gaming business in Singapore is heavily regulated, it is to be expected that the company’s decisions on foreign ventures will be subjected to scrutiny and review, and may be impacted by the need for partners to meet Singapore regulatory standards for probity”.

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