Gaming revenues at Marina Bay Sands at highest level since start of Covid-19, as visitors return

Gross gaming revenues at MBS hit US$390 million in the April-June quarter. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's two integrated resorts (IR) are benefiting from tourists returning to the Republic, with Marina Bay Sands (MBS) reporting its highest quarter of gaming revenue since the onset of Covid-19 in 2020.

Analysts are also expecting Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to deliver numbers exceeding pre-pandemic levels when it reports results on Aug 12.

In its second-quarter earnings call last week, Mr Robert Goldstein, chairman and chief executive of MBS' parent company Las Vegas Sands (LVS), noted that gross gaming revenues at MBS hit US$390 million (S$540 million) in the April-June quarter.

This is up by almost 42 per cent from the first quarter from January-March. It was also the highest quarterly revenue reported since the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Revenue was supported by rising demand from both the mass market segment, which recovered to 79 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, as well as from the VIP market, which recovered to 76 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, according to brokerage UOB KayHian analysts Vincent Khoo and Jack Goh in a report on Monday (July 25).

As a result, MBS' earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) amounted to US$319 million during the April-June quarter.

Mr Khoo and Mr Goh also noted that the robust quarter for MBS aligns with Singapore's easing of pandemic travel restrictions in April, which allows fully vaccinated travellers to enter Singapore without needing to quarantine and be subject to pre-departure and on-arrival tests.

Subsequently, the analysts are expecting Singapore's second IR, Genting Singapore-operated RWS, to report a strong quarter of gaming revenues on Aug 12.

Mr Khoo and Mr Goh expect gross gaming revenue for Singapore's casinos to grow by 80 per cent to 90 per cent this year, backed by surging international patronage and a recovery in Singapore tourism.

During the earnings call, Mr Goldstein added that investments to expand MBS' hotel and events space have positioned it "exceedingly well to deliver future growth".

LVS is investing US$3.3 billion to bring new hotel, entertainment, events and retail offerings to MBS. This includes a luxury hotel tower with some 1,000 all-suite rooms and a state-of-the-art, 15,000-seat arena for entertainment events and large conferences.

Construction is slated to commence in April next year, with the targeted opening scheduled for 2026, LVS executives said.

Separately, MBS is now renovating its two existing hotel towers to include fresh suite options for $1 billion. This will be completed in phases between this year and next.

RWS has also been expanding. Work to construct Minion Land, a new attraction at Universal Studios Singapore, which is part of a $4.5 billion expansion of RWS, began on May 26.

The additional investments come as tourists are arriving and staying longer in Singapore, with visitors now staying 7.1 days on average compared with 3.4 days in 2019, according to a Singapore Tourism Board report earlier this month.

Meanwhile, data from Changi Airport also showed a spike in the number of arrivals to Singapore, from 720,000 in January to more than 2.4 million in May.

There are risks to the bullish projections though. Economists warn that the spike in visitor arrivals to Singapore could be affected by the strengthening of the Singapore dollar versus other currencies.

"A stronger Singdollar may impact the tourism and hospitality sector, as Singapore will be far more expensive to host events relative to many other countries, including Thailand, Malaysia or Japan," said Mr Chua Hak Bin, senior economist from Maybank.

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