Singapores first casino open

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 09:04
Singapore's first casino, a key part of a drive to boost tourism revenue and please wealthy visitors, opened its doors on Sunday, Lunar New Year - the most auspicious day of the Chinese calendar. Foreigners and a few Singaporeans streamed to card and dice tables and slot machines Sunday at 12:18 p.m. — the lucky minute when tightly controlled Singapore opened its first casino. The line for foreigners was long and deep at the midday opening, while few Singaporeans and permanent residents appeared eager to pay the fee required of them to enter. Chinese consider eight a lucky number because it sounds like prosper or wealth in the Mandarin dialect. The government expects the two casino-resorts — Las Vegas Sands opens its Marina Bay Sands in May — to increase the country's gross domestic product growth by up to 1 percentage point and add 35,000 jobs. (The government decided to go ahead with the projects for their economic benefit while implementing measures to minimize social harm.) All Singaporeans and permanent residents must pay SG$100 a day or SG$2,000 a year to enter a casino, while foreigners are not charged. More than 34,000 residents - including those on welfare, in bankruptcy, with criminal records or flagged by family members - are barred from the casinos. (Singapore, an island of 5 million people, has gained notice in the past for its ban on chewing gum sales, caning sentences for minor crimes such as vandalism and executions of drug smugglers.)