Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sands Marina Bay- Gambling Paisa Style in Singapore

The start of the rainy season finds me on way to check out the Marina Bay complex in Singapore, where the new 5.5 billion dollar Sands Casino Resort in Marina Bay has opened in 2011.
Sands Marina Bay three hotel towers at night
Look carefully at the photo, do you notice the humongous, gaudy yacht laying across three hotel towers? It’s a virtual "Where's Waldo."
The rain begins, and we're not talking about precipitation in Los Angeles (a once a year drizzle for five, sometimes five and a half minutes) we're talking about gobs of water falling from the sky so large they literally hurts when they strike your body. I can now sympathize with the ant who had the misfortune of standing under a bathtub faucet as it opened.
In less than a minute I'm drenched, my clothing and shoes soaked through to the bone.
I sprint for the nearest building, taking refuge in a high tech showroom describing the functionality and design of the entire Marina Bay center. I find it fascinating how Singapore tries to tout their “green credentials” when a mammoth amount of resources were used to build, and further maintain, the giant money sucking machine a couple hundred meters away.

As the rain subsides, I make my way towards the complex, using the "Where's Waldo" photo as my compass. Exploring the world today requires much wit and acumen.

Two six foot tall, twenty-five year old paper thin blonds in mini-skirts, heels, and Prada bags pass by me; I surmise that Sands Casino has managed to attract some high-rollers. 
Gucci- Sands Marina Bay
Gondolas in Sands marina bay, Singapore
The Political Gamble
At the casino’s entrance, there are two lines, one for non-nationals, and one for natives. A foreign passport gets you in free, show Singaporean identification and get charged a $100 admission fee (good for twenty-four hours.)
Contrary to popular politics in the United States, gambling is NOT a revenue creator, unless the money comes from outside the locality. Kind of like if twenty of us were marooned on a deserted island, and I said, we need to raise money, I am going to chop down this coconut tree to build a roulette wheel, and then the rest of you can keep betting your seashells (currency) until you lose them all to my casino, and I’ll pay taxes on the money to hire one of you to dig us a latrine.
The island “benefits” from the latrine, a ditch digger has his salary, and the rest of you have nothing. Meanwhile with all my new found wealth, I’ve hired someone to build me the Where’s Waldo yacht (with the rest of the coconut wood, cause as a Tea Party member, I don’t care what happens to the rest of society) so I can get the hell off your pathetic, impoverished island, which, with the added carbon emissions my casino has created, will soon be flooded by rising sea levels. Enjoy your roulette wheel, maybe it will float.

Casinos produce nothing, and serve no social function except to satisfy the apparent insatiable stupidity and need for “thrill” of the masses.
This is why, for years, Nevada has been able to get away with no personal income taxes, as casinos filled state’s coffers from suckers worldwide. Now that people have so many more places to gamble, Las Vegas’s sole competitive advantage is that these behemoth temples to human kind’s avarice and stupidity are such a site to behold, they themselves act as tourist attractions.
the crowded gaming floor from above
The $100 entrance fee for locals is a tax that the goes directly to the Singaporean government, imposed to discourage its citizens from losing their hard earned money to the syndicates. I guess the government believes anyone stupid enough to pay a substantial amount of cash so they can lose more of it, deserves their fate.

Paisa Room Style
I walk onto the casino floor and gaze around at the sea of humanity whose heads bob with the ebb and flow of the cards and dice, the electronic spin of modern day slot machines. Most of the customers are Chinese, the country’s appetite for gambling generally thought to be the greatest of any of the world’s nationalities. 
just another casino really- lots of $$
I walk upstairs to the VIP area, and converse with a young Singaporean working the door. He’s affable, and willing to discuss virtually any topic.

“Do you think it’s possible for a gambler to win?”
“Well my parents taught me gambling was essentially 50/50, but after working at the casino for the last few months, I’m starting to doubt that.”
 “50/50? They think they build this behemoth on 50/50?”
 “I really don’t know,” he answers sheepishly, a smile on his face.
“Who are the worst tempered gamblers?” I inquire, fully expecting him to say the Chinese, who have horrible reputations as ill mannered, arrogant, uncouth aggressors throughout Asia.
“The Singaporeans,” he answers to my surprise, “I guess they’re doubly mad, cause not only did they lose their money, but had to pay a good amount to do so.”
“What’s special about the VIP room here?” I ask, gazing in.
“Higher limits, exclusivity, plus we serve free drinks.”
“These aren’t the highest limits in the casino, are they?”
“Oh no that’s the Paisa Room. To gain access to it you have to wire the casino a minimum of $50,000 and bet it all in total. So if you wanted to bet $1,000 at a time, you have to do so fifty times in a row.”
“$50,000 to gain access?”
“50k,” he answers.
“That’s a lot of cash.”
“Somebody wins, and somebody loses.”
Speaking of which Las Vegas Sands stock price (LVS) is up again today.
Sands Marina Bay pool on the roof

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