It’s not a casino

It was a strange place to lament Arnold Schwarznegger's lost years. The years as Governor of California which ripped away from us the greatest bad acting talent of his generation. I was sitting in the Sands Theater in Singapore's magnificent new Marina Bay Sands development listening to the chairman of Las Vegas Sands,

Mark Eggleton

It was a strange place to lament Arnold Schwarznegger's lost years. The years as Governor of California which ripped away from us the greatest bad acting talent of his generation.

I was sitting in the Sands Theater in Singapore's magnificent new Marina Bay Sands development listening to the chairman of Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson ramp up the hyperbole by calling the new development the eighth wonder of the world ... and then it happened. Adelson started using the term fully-integrated resort and managed to get a little testy when questioned on the casino part of the development.

It was the same reaction I'd also received from the Singapore Tourism Bureau when I'd originally pitched my story idea. I wanted to talk about Singapore as the Monaco of Asia - the classy destination for those gamblers who weren't interested in the Macau strip. Their reply: "It's not a casino, it's a fully integrated resort."

It made me think of  Arnie delivering his much-loved Austrian-accented "It's not a tumour" line in the movie Kindergarten Cop. I wanted to stand up in the theater and yell out in my best Austrian accent that "It's not a casino" or maybe even do my Elephant Man impersonation and yell "I'm not a casino, I'm a fully integrated resort".

I didn't because I'm a coward. In fact, I sunk lower in my seat just thinking about it.

As for the development itself, it's an amazing feat of engineering. Comprising three 55-story towers with 2561 luxury rooms and suites, it's topped by the Sands SkyPark. The SkyPark offers 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline as well as restaurants, lush gardens, an infinity-edged swimming pool and the world's largest public cantilever housing an observation deck.

Attached to the hotel is 1.3 million square feet of flexible convention and exhibition space including the largest ballroom in South-East Asia. Then there's the shopping. Labeled The Shoppes, I'm all for calling them the Ye Olde Shoppes, every major luxury brand seems to have hung out their shingle. There's celebrity restaurants, a couple of theaters and the world's first ArtScience Museum which either looks like a giant hand that has been caught in a rather severe industrial accident or a Lotus flower. It all depends on your mindset.

And then finally ... without mentioning the C-word, there's a large room with lots of tables where people play games with cards or watch a ball go around a colourful spinning bowl or even put money into machines with lots of flashing lights. By the way, while it was free for me to enter and enjoy the magical diversions of this large room, Singaporeans have to pay $100 of their hard-earned local currency to enter. Reason being is the government doesn't want them to be morally corrupted by the evils of this well-lit room in their shiny new fully integrated resort.

Go on, say it ... "It's not a casino".

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