Home Singapore Sri Lanka – Singapore’s next big rival?

Sri Lanka – Singapore’s next big rival?

With nearby Vietnam already working on casino resorts of its own, it seems Singapore may be set to face stiff competition from a further Asian country, the island nation of Sri Lanka.

Although its bloody and long civil war is now becoming a memory, Sri Lanka’s tourist trade is struggling to recover. Now its government is looking toward Asia’s booming casino trade to kick start this recovery.

Sri Lanka’s bold new vision

Although there’s still quite a way to go before Sri Lanka’s can realize its aim of becoming one of Asia’s premier ‘gambling hubs’, it did take the first step towards this in November 2010, when casino gambling was legalized. This was followed up recently by the government giving the go-ahead for the construction of two resort-style casino complexes on the island.

As well as bringing in around $350 million and $850 million in investment respectively, both are expected to create thousands of jobs both during the construction process, and once they’ve opened for business.

A threat to Singapore?

Casinos legal in Sri LankaAlthough the amounts being invested pale compared to those lavished upon Singapore’s two casinos during their construction (both of which cost several billion US dollars to construct), Sri Lanka’s close proximity to India could make it a threat. India is Singapore’s fifth biggest source of visitors and visitor numbers have risen strongly since the opening of the Resort Worlds Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands casino resorts in 2010. This year alone, over 1 million Indians are expected to visit Singapore.

Given that Sri Lanka is much closer to the major Indian cities of Hyderabad and Mumbai than Singapore, establishing Sri Lanka as a major casino resort – as would happen were one of the world’s top operators to open a major casino there – has the potential to impact Singaporean gambling tourism.

Singaporean revenue still growing

But while it seems it may face competition in the future from countries as far afield as Sri Lanka, Vietnam and South Korea, things seem to be rosy enough for Singapore’s casinos right now. The Marina Bay Sands recently reported that gambling revenue for the second quarter of the current year was $774 million, up 12 per cent on the same quarter the previous year. And with tourism numbers still growing, it seems there’s little cause for concern in the short term.