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PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 August, 2009, 12:00am

Investors up ante as analysts bullish on Singapore

The casinos won't open until early next year, but already investors are placing their bets on the builders of Singapore's so-called integrated resorts.

Analysts at CLSA and Deutsche Bank recently published very bullish reports on the Lion City's potential as a gaming market, with both brokerages estimating that its two casinos would be able to generate about US$3 billion in winnings per year from the onset.

That would be just under a quarter of Macau's US$13 billion in revenue that its 32 properties booked during the 12 months to June. But it would be a bit more than half the US$5.66 billion that 41 casinos, slot halls and bingo parlours on the Las Vegas Strip raked in during the same period. If the analysts are right, Singapore will probably rank as the world's fourth-biggest casino market after Macau, Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Indeed, Singapore needs to be a big market. At nearly US$6 billion apiece, the Marina Bay Sands and Genting's Resorts World Sentosa will be two of the world's three most expensive casinos ever built (the most expensive is MGM Mirage's US$9 billion CityCenter, to open this year in Las Vegas). Already this year, shares in Genting Singapore (formerly Genting International) have more than doubled. Investors in the firm's Singapore-traded shares are currently valuing the company at US$6 billion. Singapore will need more than one ace up its sleeve to live up to these lofty expectations.

Asian Poker Tour main-event winner could rake in HK$3m

Speaking of big bets, organisers of Macau's Asian Poker Tour (APT) expect the winner of the HK$34,400 buy-in main event, which runs until Sunday, to pocket a cool HK$3 million. About 130 players bought in yesterday, the first day of the main tourney, and organiser AsianLogic expects 300 will have joined by 2.30pm today, when registration closes.

Now in its second year at the StarWorld, the APT has attracted some serious action at sideline cash games, with pots frequently climbing north of HK$100,000. Uber-high-rollers have even staged cash games with a HK$1 million buy-in that saw the odd pot for a single hand approach HK$3 million.

The APT will be followed by the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour, which kicks off at the Grand Lisboa from next Tuesday.

Wynn sell-down sees Okada as firm's biggest shareholder

The biggest shareholder of Wynn Resorts is now Kazuo Okada's Japanese pachinko operator Aruze. Wynn chairman and chief executive Steve Wynn saw his interest in the firm reduced to 18 per cent this week after he and wife Elaine sold down two million shares at US$57 apiece to raise US$114 million in cash proceeds.

The Wynns are getting divorced and 'the shares were sold to provide liquidity in anticipation of the change in their marital status', the company said.

Mr Okada, Mr Wynn's long-time co-investor, retains a 19.9 per cent stake in the Nasdaq-listed firm. But Okada-san is also able to cash in two million of his shares if he wants, under the terms of a 2002 pre-IPO agreement. The deal gives Mr Wynn and Mr Okada right of first refusal in the event either one wishes to sell shares in the company.