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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        12 January 2011

Singapore casinos a hit with government

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Singapore's two casino resorts, run by Genting Singapore Plc and Las Vegas Sands Corp., contributed S$420 million ($324 million) in net revenue to the city-state in the April to November 2010 period.

The governments' revenue from the two casinos will be placed in a consolidated fund, Second Finance Minister Lim Hwee Hua said in Parliament today.

The two casinos helped Singapore's gross domestic product expand 14.7 percent in 2010, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said on Jan. 10. Last year's economic growth probably made the city of 5 million people the fastest- growing economy in the world after Qatar, according to International Monetary Fund estimates.

The casinos opened in Singapore last year after a 40-year ban was lifted to help boost tourism revenue and shed what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called an "unexciting image." In 2002, Lee rejected a proposal for casinos, saying they could lead to "undesirable activities" such as money laundering, illegal lending and organized crime.

A total of 31,316 Singaporeans were banned from the casinos under exclusion orders, Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said today in Parliament.

Genting's Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands may post $2.8 billion in casino revenue in 2010 and $5.5 billion this year, the Today newspaper reported on Dec. 21, citing PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

The "outstanding results" at the Marina Bay Sands contributed to Las Vegas Sands' third-quarter earnings, which topped analysts' estimates, Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said on October 28.

Singapore's government in September stopped all bus shuttle services between local town centers and the casinos, saying promotional efforts should be confined to tourists. The Southeast Asian nation, which is planning to review its rules governing casinos, has also set up the Casino Crime Investigation Branch and a National Council on Problem Gambling.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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