Dec 7, 2009

Virtual Realities, Roller Coasters and Casino Gambling

Just back from our holiday in Japan. Among other things, we gorged on a feast of theme parks, spending a day each at Universal Studios, Disneyland and Disneysea. Roller coasters, 4D reality, Spiderman, haunted houses and all the rest of it.

It was really fun. Not just for the kids, but for me as well (however Mrs Wang got somewhat terrified by the Tower of Terror).

Now I'm looking forward to Singapore's own integrated resorts on Sentosa, especially the Universal Studios that will form part of the Resorts World IR.

At the same time, my Japan trip somewhat reinforces in my mind the drawbacks of Singapore's approach. Because of the casino element, we're inevitably going to face a host of social ills, such as prostitution, loansharking and gambling addiction.

In contrast, Disneyland, Disneysea and Universal Studios in Japan offer clean, wholesome, family-friendly fun. They are also huge attractions in their own right, drawing an endless stream of tourists and visitors all year round. Nothing sleazy about it.

Why did Singapore have to choose the sleazy route? Ah well, too late to ask now.


Bloom said...

Did Singapore ( its people) have a choice? The decision was shoved down everyone's throats. To add insult to injury, it was 'debated' in Parliament.

My grandfather's grandson said...

Some new features of the new IR in Singapore:
1. Fixing-Others Arcade halls
2. Cooling swimming pools
3. No-brainer Jackpot machines
4. Spot-the-swineflu games
5. Who wants to be bankrupt daily show
6. Redefining nepotism thesaurus/dictionary quiz
7. Speak Mandarin singing contest
8. Spot-the-foreigner-talent, instant draw

Just some of my ideas. Patented hor?

Rick said...

Hi Mr Wang,

No worries. I do remember PM Lee saying that he will "take a personal responsibility" for the decision. We should put this on the record and never forget this promise.

The said...

/// Why did Singapore have to choose the sleazy route? ///

Your assumption is that Singapore is going for the theme parks.

Theme parks have never really taken off in part because there is no base support, and many of the attempts were half-hearted and neither here nor there. The only real "success" which lasted quite a while was Haw Par Villa.

Theme Parks such as the roller coaster in Kallang, Tang Dynasty Village, Sentosa etc are money-losing ventures.

The real reason the IRs are here is because of the casinos. Because of possible objections, such as yours, they have to throw in the theme parks, to make the casinos (euphemistically called IRs) more palatable and easier to sell to the public.

As usual, money and economics take precedence over everything else in Singapore, and you can stuff your morals where the sun don't shine.

Asians, and in particular Chinese, are die-hard gamblers. For years, we have seen Singaporeans going to Macau, Genting, and the cruises to nowhere to gamble, plus the dozens springing up in Batam and Bintan.

Then you have the official Toto, $-D, Big Sweep, Soccer bets, F1 bets, and what have you.

Bottomline is, gambling is big money, and in Singapore the bottomline is the be all and end all.

Lucky Tan said...

Has it occurred to you that the theme parks are there only to make the casinos more palatable? Otherwise, they can't be called IRs if they are purely for gambling.

The real purpose of the casinos? ...According to economist Andy Xie, is to attact a certain type of money. But I think the govt simply jumped onto the bandwagon given what was going on in Macau and Vegas.

What is going to happen next? The IRs created thousands of jobs few of which our education system prepared Singaporeans for. The entertainment posts will be filled by Filipinos, the dealers/pit managers/ gaming positions at the casinos probably by people from Macau & China. Cleaners? probably Singaporeans. Loan sharks - Singaporeans. Hookers from China and so on.

These casinos are nice billion$ buildings but other than making our skyline nicer and creating jobs for non-Singaporeans who now also fill many service sector jobs.

What's is really in it for Singaporeans? Wasn't there something else we could have invested in?

the little eastern heretic said...

why is prostitution a 'social ill'? willing buyer, willing seller, unless there is coercion or any party is underaged, who are we to interfere?

Unknown said...

Do we know the size of the sex industry in Japan?

Here are some numbers:-

In Singapore, I sincerely hope its very much in control.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, are you comparing oranges to apples when you are making comparison between Singapore to Japan? *snigger*

Anonymous said...

If there's no Casinos... nobody bother about whatever kind of IRs, thats the turth.
Macau had set the pace and condition for What should be an Asian "IR".
But can we bet on Singapore IR to bring about more good things?
check this out at,

- Involved Guy

Anonymous said...

There's this joke abt the IRs, but it has set people to think seriously:
The IR bidding was a case of a hawker (operator) who bidded for a monthly rental of $200,000 for a stall at food court to sell Wan Ton Noodle.
The financial question is, can this operator sell Wan Ton Noodle at $100 per plate/bowl? Or selling 3,000 plates at $4 per day?

Anonymous said...

Casinos will succeed as a business because the market is opened to the whole world. There will be more than enough rich and super rich. It is also not in the category of "wonton noodle" business.

But the magnitude of the negative social impact is not so clear cut. But as always, I think the govt knows how to manage the risks. They have a 44 year good unbroken record on this, despite whatever faults.

Anonymous said...

I believe we also need to look at the macro picture.... On average, each tourism stays about 3.6 to 4 days... and if we could get them to stay an additional 1 to 2 days, it has a great impact on the economy....and that is like a 30% to 40% boost to the economy, from tourism-related contribution

They have to pay for accomodation, transport, consume food and beverage, shop, etc...

I believe one of the objectives for the IR is to make the average tourist stay longer...

Let's not be too quick to judge and see how things pan out first.

Anonymous said...

"Why did Singapore have to choose the sleazy route?"

simply bo-pian. do not have advantage in manufacturing already. ancillary services will follow manufacturing.

so have to invent entertainment services lo.

whack those rich by making sing a big wonderland while trying to control local "casualties" (from social ills). and yeah, give out all the right responsible sound bites that gambling is to be discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Strange... many people dun seem to understand the realsm of casino biz and thot that moneies just flow in...
Wait till the first case of casino flops like the world's most expensive Wan Ton Noodle stall...

Anonymous said...

What part of "Cheaper Better Faster" do you not understand?

Anonymous said...

"They have a 44 year good unbroken record on this, despite whatever faults."

In managing casinos (IR ?) and the accompanying social ills ? Do you think you will see any broken records left lying around, if any.

“People do want to know, there is curiosity, it is a matter of public interest. That is not sufficient reason to disclose information. It is not sufficient that there be curiosity and interest that you want to disclose information.”

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

After looking at Tokyo's theme parks, I'm just wondering why we could not just have constructed some world-class, quality theme parks too, without the casinos. That's my main point.

These theme parks create a lot of jobs; draw visitors from all over the year; and yes, there are people who come again and again to visit.

Tokyo's Disney have at least five or six hotels built around them, specifically to cater for people who have travelled all the way to Japan just to visit the theme parks.

SG Girl Next Door said...

Hi Mr Wang

I went to Tokyo Disneyland years ago. I remembered entering a haunted house with a narrator telling us a story as we went along. However he spoke Japanese so I didn't understand how creepy the house was supposed to be.. But overall, it was fun there. Healthy entertainment.

Any interesting pics to share?

Anonymous said...

Macau is not exactly a place for kids, but people can choose to visit HK which is just an hour away.

Japan have many theme parks but no casinos (although you can make some money if you know how to play pachinko and know where to collect the winnings).

To differentiate itself from Japan and Macau, Singapore is trying to have both theme parks and casinos in one destination. I will visit HK if SG builds a theme park without a casino, and visit Macau for 1-2 nights. Or Japan where they offers not just theme parks but many other activities.

Or Singapore can just build nothing and continue to rely on manufacturing...

Anonymous said...

"They have a 44 year good unbroken record on this, despite whatever faults."

Let's see the "good" work pap has done over the decades. 2 kids max policy, bilingual education policy, graduate mom benefits, to name a few.

Not forgetting herding an entire generation of students into engineering and semi-conductor industry.

Good record of screw ups.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Something tells me that Universal Studios Spore is going to be Pinoyland. Too many Filipinos recruited to work there by Genting.

You will not get the unique Spore experience of local culture embedded in Universal Studios Spore like the way you got the Jap experience at Osaka.

Personally, I do not wish to patronize a place where a Malaysian company has total disregard for our local citizens. Witness the uproar of Genting Resorts trying to do damage control where the press found out that they were hiring thousands of Pinoys abroad.

In the end, Genting only paid lip service to Spore citizens & still ended up hiring plenty of Pinoys to man the casions & theme park.