Thursday, March 01, 2007

Genting says it is cooperating with Singapore

SINGAPORE: Genting International Ltd. said Thursday that its multibillion casino resort in Singapore is more important than its Macau casino project and that it is fully cooperating with Singapore authorities to qualify for a gaming license.

"Sentosa is the more important project for Genting (than Macau),'' the company's chief executive, Justin Tan, told reporters.

"We only have a minority interest in Macau.''

Late last year, Genting International and and Star Cruises Ltd., both units of Malaysian gaming group Genting Bhd., were awarded the concession to build the casino resort on Sentosa Island.

But on Tuesday, the Singapore government said Genting's casino license was not guaranteed and that the consortium had to pass a screening process.

"There are still issues that need to be to be resolved (for Genting's license),'' Singapore Tourism Board Deputy Chairman Lim Neo Chian told reporters Thursday.

Singapore issued its warning to Genting International and Star Cruises a few weeks after the partners announced a casino-and-hotel deal with controversial Macau businessman Stanley Ho.

Ho is a key figure in Macau, a gambling enclave that has a reputation as an organized crime stronghold.

The tycoon heads a sprawling conglomerate that dominates Macau's economy, with interests ranging from hotels and banking to tourist attractions such as the Macau Tower.

Genting was to pay a 5 percent security deposit Thursday and sign the development contract that will allow it to start construction at the Sentosa site.

Genting International said late Wednesday that it is working closely with the Singapore authorities and is "fully committed'' to meeting probity requirements for a casino license.

The company said it "understands fully the necessity and requirements of thorough suitability checks on casino operators.''

Failure to secure a license would deprive the Genting consortium of potentially lucrative earnings from the gambling component of the Sentosa development.

Source : STAR
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