* Universal Studios theme park completed, undergoing tests
* Still waiting for Singapore casino licence
* Las Vegas Sands to open S’pore casino in phases from April
(Adds further details, background)
SINGAPORE, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Genting Singapore GENS.SI said on Tuesday it will open the first part of its $4.4 billion casino-resort in the city-state on Jan 20, beginning with four hotels.
“Resorts World Sentosa is working closely with the authorities to obtain approvals for Universal Studios Singapore, which will open next,” the company said in a statement.
Genting Singapore, a unit of Malaysia's Genting Bhd GENT.KL, said it will announce the start date for the casino when it receives the licence from Singapore authorities.
Singapore legalised casino gambling in 2005 and said it will allow two casino-resorts to be built as part of ambitious plans to double visitor arrivals to 17 million by 2015.
The city-state's other casino-resort, Las Vegas Sands' LVS.N $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands, is scheduled to begin its phased opening in April, although many analysts doubt if the firm can meet the target date. [ID:nTOE5BK02T]
Casino operators in Singapore will pay an effective tax of around 12 percent on net revenue from gamblers, giving them an incentive to draw Asian high rollers away from Macau where the tax is just under 40 percent. [ID:nSP474941]
Genting declined to provide estimated start dates for its Singapore casino or Universal Studios theme park, Southeast Asia’s first, although a spokesman said testing and commissioning of the various rides had started in early November.
A spokeswoman for Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority said Genting made an initial submission for a casino licence in October 2009 and the completed application package was received in December. Singapore casino laws are based on regulations in the United States and Australia.
Such applications typically take more than three months to process as they involve vetting casino owners and managers, casino industry officials have said. (Reporting by Kevin Lim; Editing by Neil Chatterjee and Greg Mahlich)
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