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Singapore has no effect on Macau: Leven

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One year after the opening of Marina Bay Sands, it’s clear that Singapore has not stolen business from Macau’s gaming industry, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) chief operating officer Michael Leven said.
In a podcast interview, he said a supposed cannibalisation of the two gaming cities “is really a ridiculous concept” because “the Chinese player’s market in VIP gaming is enormous”.
Leven, who is also the acting chief executive officer of local gaming operator Sands China, acknowledged that some high-rollers from mainland China will go to Singapore, Australia, Las Vegas or other destinations.
“But there is no way you can cannibalise the [Macau] market,” he said in an interview with LVS’ new blog, Sands Confidential.
In addition, Singapore’s market is Southeast Asia, “which is one of the areas with the fastest growth in the world,” the executive stressed.
The MSAR gaming revenue has reached a new record high of MOP 20.1 billion last month, 41.6 percent higher than in April 2010, when Marina Bay Sands opened.
For 2011, the company’s priority is “to solidify the company management so that we have a sustainable long-term management team that everybody can be happy with,” Leven said.
“We’re practically staffed up at the corporate level with just a few openings in the field that we have to fill,” he added.
Last month the executive told Macau Daily Times that Sands China was giving up on its search for a new chief executive officer, a hunt that had been going on since August last year after Steve Jacobs’ dismissal.
The company decided to maintain the actual structure, with president and chief operating officer Edward Tracy leading the operation, supported by executive vice president and chief casino officer David Sisk – the two executives were hired in August 2010.
Sands China will instead hire someone who can manage government relations, Leven said. “The person would have some government experience,” he added, without disclosing further details.

Japan delay

LVS continues to be interested in launching gaming operations in Japan but Leven acknowledged that the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and the ongoing nuclear disaster, might delay any new developments.
“Our first target was Japan, up to a few days ago. I hope it still remains our first target but realistically I think it’s going to take the Japanese Government a few more months to get restructured and reorganised after this disaster,” he said.
Last year a gaming bill allowing the building of casinos in Osaka, Tokyo and Okinawa was submitted to Japan’s parliament.
“Although the gaming bill may be in the legislature for this session, I question how much of a priority it’s going to be at this particular time,” the executive considered.
“I hope it does but Japan has a lot of priorities right now. We may be delayed a little bit longer,” he admitted.
Other priorities in Asia would be the South Korean and Vietnamese markets, Leven disclosed. However, he added, LVS would only be interested in stepping in “if we could get local gaming”.
In South Korea, only one casino allows local residents entry and they can only gamble 15 times per month.

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