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LV Sands breaks ground on Singapore resort

9 February 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Las Vegas Sands Corp. formally broke ground on a $3.6 billion Marina Bay Sands on Thursday on the island-nation of Singapore, but company officials said construction costs might rise.

Las Vegas Sands President Bill Weidner said costs to transport sand used in construction on Singapore's first casino might rise by more than a third. Indonesia, the city-state's main sand supplier, recently banned exports of the building material.

"I believe there's a strategic stockpile (of sand) that we can be utilizing to make sure we stay on course," Weidner said.

Singapore said Jan. 31 it would release concreting sand from its stockpile to make up for shortfalls after Indonesia banned sand exports last month.

Weidner was speaking at an event on the site of the Marina Bay Sands where construction was under way.

He also said that the casino resort was on track to open in 2009.

"We are going to pay a little more for our sand because of transportation," Weidner said. There are alternative availabilities of sand that could cost us as much as 30 percent more. I don't think the cost of sand itself is different, it's just you have to bring it from further away."

Singapore reversed its decades-old ban on casino gambling in 2005 an ambitious attempt to double visitor arrivals to 17 million by 2015. The first contract was awarded in May to Las Vegas Sands.

U.S. casino operators have been rushing to expand in Asia to tap the region's fast-growing ranks of millionaires and middle-class consumers.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. has signed up 56 tour operators to bring tourists to the city when the resort opens.

The company has received interest from more than 250 tenants and is in negotiations with 15 international organizations on hosting conferences and has also received inquiries for events stretching up to 2013, it said in a statement. The resort will have 1.2 million square feet of convention and meeting space.

"Our biggest problem is who to allocate space to," Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson said in Singapore. "Singapore is about to undergo a transformation."

Weidner said design and development of the retail space and the food and beverage outlets have begun.

The property will have 2,500 hotel rooms and three large entertainment venues in addition to a casino.

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