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Two gamblers lose combined $115 million in Singapore

13 October 2010

SINGAPORE -- Singapore, which opened its first casino in February, has already earned its place in gaming lore.

Two gamblers lost a combined $115 million in American dollars during baccarat sessions at the island nation's two casinos, including the Marina Bay Sands, which is operated by Las Vegas Sands Corp.

According to Singapore media, it was unclear how long the session lasted for the two gamblers, which included a Singapore businessman who appeared on the latest Forbes list of Singapore's 40 richest people.

It was unclear how the split went between the two casinos. The gamblers' losses came at the Marina Bay Sands, which opened in April, and Resorts World Sentosa, which is operated by Malaysia-based Genting.

Union Gaming Group Principal Bill Lerner told investors the casinos probably forgave a portion of the losses.

"Working through the numbers a bit more would suggest about $86 million in net revenue for the two properties combined," Lerner said.

The Singapore businessman lost the bulk of the money while a gambler from Malaysia lost the rest, which was still quite substantial by casino standards.

David G. Schwartz, director for the Center of Gaming Research at UNLV, said the figures recall the legendary gambling sprees of the late Australian business mogul Kerry Packer and high-end players from the Far East who would drop millions on Strip baccarat tables.

"That's a ton of money," Schwartz said, adding that the $115 million loss is equal to two months worth of gaming revenues at the 45 casinos in Washoe County combined.

"They could have pooled a little more money together and bought the debt on M Resort," Schwartz said, referring to last week's announcement that Penn National Gaming paid $230.5 million to Lloyd's Bank for the casino's total debt of $860 million.

Singapore legalized two casinos in an effort to boost tourism, but gaming was not to be the resorts' overriding feature.

Las Vegas Sands responded by spending $5.7 billion on a 2,560-room hotel-casino over three hotel towers, which includes a 7,000-ton rooftop skypark.

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson has said Marina Bay Sands could earn more than $1 billion in annual cash flow.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands hit a 52-week high on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday before closing at $39, up 38 cents, or 0.98 percent.