SINGAPORE Dec 7 Gaming operator Genting
Singapore is examining opportunities to enter Japan,
where a new government is expected to pass legislation
legalizing casinos in the next 12 months to 18 months, company
executives said on Friday.
The operator of the muti-billion dollar casino and
entertainment complex Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore is
looking to expand overseas at a time its casino in the
city-state is facing headwinds from tighter regulations and
slowing economic growth.
Its gaming revenue fell 20 percent in the third quarter from
a year ago.
"I'm more optimistic on something happening in Japan than
for the rest. We see some possible movement in terms of Japanese
legislation," chairman of the Genting Group, Lim Kok Tay, said
at a press conference.
The Genting Group comprises Genting Berhad as the
investment holding company and listed vehicles such as Genting
Singapore, Genting Malaysia and Genting Hong Kong
Genting Hong Kong has applied to Australian regulators to
raise its stake in Echo Entertainment Group to 25
percent from about 5 percent, potentially pitting it in a battle
for the company against Australian billionaire James Packer, who
owns a 10 percent stake.
The group also operates the popular Genting Highlands casino
complex near Kuala Lumpur and has invested in the Philippines
and Vietnam, after missing out on a concession in Macau more
than a decade ago.
CHANGING POLITICAL WINDS?
The Japanese government has been toying with the idea of
changing the law to make casinos legal, but the process has been
slowed by constant changes in its leadership.
However, that may soon change with a parliamentary election
later this month that is expected to see a win for the Liberal
Democratic Party, which has supported legalising casinos.
"We believe that some legislation will come along in the
next 12-18 months," said Tan Hee Teck, Chief Operating Officer
of Genting Singapore.
The Genting executives did not provide any details on how
exactly the group plans to foray into Japan or how much it is
willing to invest.
Japan is seen as an attractive market for Genting because of
its large market size and potential for larger scale
"We believe if the Japanese government does legislate
gaming, then they will be looking for large-scale integrated
resorts," said group chairman Lim.
Genting Singapore raised $2.3 billion through perpetual
securities earlier this year, and had S$4.1 billion in cash as
In Singapore, the company is looking to build more hotels to
overcome a shortage of hotel rooms to cater to the higher end of
the mass market, which is a factor limiting Genting Singapore's
growth, he said.
A subsidiary of Genting Singapore earlier this month placed
the top bid of S$238.2 million for a hotel site on the outskirts
of the city-state.
Shares of Genting Singapore have fallen 18 percent since the
start of the year, making it the third-worst performing stock on
the Straits Times Index.
(Reporting by Charmian Kok; Editing by Muralikumar