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Gambling in Singapore

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Hotels & Casinos' started by blue227, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. blue227

    blue227 Tourist

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    Have any VMBers ever traveled to Singapore and been to their casinos? The wife and I are traveling there in a couple of weeks for CNY and I was interested in stopping by and checking one out. My rudimentary research tells me that there are two casinos in Singapore and that Marina Bay Sands seems to be the better of the two and more centrally located.

    I'm mainly a slots player and prefer old fashioned, three reel slots by IGT. Double 3x4x5x Times Pay is my favorite. Do they have 3-reel slots over there are they all the 5-reel electronic variety (i.e. like Kitty Glitter as an example).

    I've also heard that I need to bring my passport so I can enter the casino without having to pay a $100 entry fee that they charge local residents.

    Is there anything else I should be aware of before I go?
     
  2. Hobofrank

    Hobofrank Prime Minister of Idiocracy

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    Natedog666 and Superpocky go there IIRC?
     
  3. DaiLun

    DaiLun R.C., L.C., and A.A.N.G.

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    My best friend visited there recently. I'll see if he can provide a post describing gaming in Singapore.
     
    New Orleans 7* retreat. Food, food, and more food . . . .
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  4. jaidee1

    jaidee1 Tourist

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    Singapore Gambling 101

    At Dailun's prodding, he told me that I could offer up some interesting thoughts on Singapore gaming...

    In 2015, I took three trips to Singapore, including one trip which was a short weekend (42 hours) and then flew back to the US and went straight to work. I did it for a mileage run and I'm a lover of traveling to Asia for real Singapore food and a bit of gambling. I previously have been to Macau, Philippines and Korea to complete the cycle of true large scale Asian casinos. There's also Malaysia and Cambodia, I believe, but no interest in going there to gamble at this time.

    Singapore does have two major casinos, the Marina Bay Sands and Sentosa Island (the casino is named Resorts World). I'll try to break it down a bit. The nice bonus is the current exchange rate in Singapore about 1.40SGD to 1.00USD. Just a few years back, it was around 1.20 to 1 if I recall. Here's some preliminary of what you need to do prior to going to a casino in Singapore.

    1) Cash your money outside of the casino prior to going to the casino. You will not get the full rate and many of you may say, what's 2 or 3 percent? Well it adds up quickly if you cash in and cash out at the casino. The tables and slots DO NOT accept US dollars so the casino has to exchange your money with a commission, both on the cash out and cash in. I had to exchange 2K US and that resulted in around a commission of 80SGD or $58USD before I even started. When you cash in, there's a smaller commish, but it's still there. Most people don't want to walk around with 2-3K in SGD after gambling because it's unlikely you will spend it all or use it back in the US. God forbid that you cash it in at the airport where they take 10% off the top.

    In SG, most of the tourist areas and shopping centers have "money changers" whether authorized or not. You can negotiate if you cash more than $500 USD and the best place was this huge shopping complex which had money changers paying "par" or exact exchange rates for USD. I got 1.41 when the exchange rate was 1.42. This was at a large "chinese shopping center" in Chinatown. The casinos were giving 1.35. Anyway, change your money before going to the casino and you won't start out in the hole. One other note, some money changers require a passport for any transaction over $500.

    2) Carry your passport and remember where your visa stamp is located. The casinos will allow most foreigners (I don't know who they do or do not allow in by country) and if you're in SIN as a visitor, you should be able to get into the casino with a passport and valid visa. They security hosts check you both going and coming into the casino area. What's a pain is that some of the restaurants and sights are in the public areas so you have to exit and re-enter each time you want to gamble. There are some heavy peak periods (Fri/Sat night) where you may stand up to 20 minutes to check in. You are also not allowed to bring any large bag, backpack or satchel into the casino so you'll have to check those in prior. Purses are of course, OK. The interesting thing is that there is a tax levy of 100 SGD (or was it 70 SGD just a couple of years ago?). You would think that only the rich older crowd would be gambling, but NO, tons of under 30s, who are Singaporean are paying those levies. I saw this because I stood in line on a Saturday last Nov and told my friend, "Look at the Singapore Residents line, they are all kids who are going in and paying the tax levy"

    3) Both Marina Bays Sands (MBS) and Resorts World (RW) are accessible by their subway system (MRT) . There is a bit of a walk (more than three to four blocks) and to get to RW, you will have to take their tram (which costs 4.00SGD). Far better to take a cab and get dropped off in front. MRT only runs until 12:30AM or so. Cabs are easy to get but leaving the casino, a queue may be up to 40 minutes of waiting (due to the crowds).

    4) If you want sanitized clean street food as opposed to going to the local outdoor restaurants (called hawker centers), eat at one of the casinos. You will get somewhat authentic street food and a relatively good price. I got Hainan Chicken rice which goes for 2-3SGD at the casino for 5-7GD - still a lot lower than the US and they employed some very clean standards of handling cooked food. Look for the equivalent of the coffee shops with the meats hanging in the windows or the steam rising. Great noodle dishes etc.

    5) I'm always amazed at what I call stadium gambling. Baccarat is played in a large pit with 30-60 individual tables where 2-4 people sit around and bet. The action is handled by one central table where you can see up close via video screens on your table or by watching the large screen. This way, you play by yourself or with a couple of friends and everyone in the stadium is playing the same game against the one common dealer. I believe some Las Vegas venues are starting something similar but I first found it in Macau and now I'm sure it's permeated Asian casinos. In fact, there also roulette "stadium style" where everyone bets on their own table/screen and you are playing against the common live dealer.

    6) If you are going to stay at either place just so you can say you stayed there, do it Sun-Weds evenings. This place is just like LV. Hotel prices double and if it's a holiday time, forget it. We did a Weds/Thurs night and got a rate of $200 USD. We then moved to a regular Singapore hotel where it's less than $100.


    Genting Resorts/Resorts World

    Genting is the corporation that built their first casino in Malaysia. They bill themselves as Asia's casino builder and Asian management. They opened originally in Genting, then Manila, Singapore and now they are building in Las Vegas. I believe there is a Resorts World in New York (not Resorts International Atlantic City). Sentosa Island is the resort and there are 4-5 major hotels on the island of Sentosa. One of the hotels is a Hard Rock but they all feed into one casino called Resorts World.

    It's basically a Disneyland, with their own beaches, a huge beautiful aquarium, one of the best I've ever seen, a Universal Studios, dolphin pool and tons of nice restaurants including the famous Din Tae Fung (famous for their soup dumplings) and even a Joel Robuchon (yes, that famous michelin star rated chef who has that super expensive restaurant in LV). There are lots of areas to walk around and it's a family resort with the casino onsite. There's one unique hotel which is situated at the aquarium where your bedroom opens up to an underwater view of one of the larger tanks. I wanted to stay there but it's too pricey for my tastes. Kids are not allowed in the casino but they are running around everywhere on Sentosa.

    Gaming is 24x7 and lots of current machines. I'm not really a slot player but I'm guessing the US gets the latest machine and the slots at the casinos in Asia are current but not the newest releases. You won't see things like Avatar, Jeff Foxworthy machines, but there are standard fare slots. The table games are predominantly Asian (Sic Bo and Pai Gow) and lots of Baccarat. There are two craps tables at RW but they only are open from noon - 4:00AM, they will shut them down earlier if there is no one playing.

    I loved eating at the restaurants on Sentosa and if you are staying at one of the hotels there, you get a free tram pass to go to the attached shopping center (via tram) which is about a mile away. The food is great at the shopping center and you can then take the MRT anywhere around Singapore.

    Marina Bay Sands -

    A gorgeous structure with the famous infinity pool on the roof. What I love about the MBS is the when you enter the casino, you look down on one of the single largest open area casinos I've ever seen in the world. It's very cool to see thousands of people gambling from above. MBS put some $$$ into the building and into the casino. The problem is the size lends itself to getting lost easily. When I thought I was in one section, I was in another. I knew the Craps tables were at the base of the escalator but turns out, there are three sets of escalators. Same stadium style gaming I described above but this lends itself to having your own little private gaming table that you can sit with your friends.

    There's a great Asian coffee shop 24x7 where you get your fill of noodles, soups and asian foods. There's a huge attached upscale mall attached where you can shop high end stores. Great to look but I hardly saw any customers at the designer label shops. Kinda like Caesars, City Center, etc, where you see a lot of salespeople standing around waiting for someone to show up. Biggest complaint is that it's a five block walk and Singapore is never cool. It's almost on the equator.

    In general, very fun place to visit and it's a lot less "in your face" than Macau. Younger crowd but good experience at least once in your life to try.
     
  5. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Wow jaidee. That is a great reference. Thank you for taking the time to write that up.
     
  6. blue227

    blue227 Tourist

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    Jaidee1, thanks for the detailed response!

    I had a question in terms of the money changers that you mentioned in your post.

    I've always heard that the best place to get foreign currency while travelling is through an ATM machine. I was told that they have the best exchange rate.

    My wife (who is from Singapore) had mentioned the community of money changers that operate in the country and suggested that I use their services to get SGD. Any insight as to which one offers the better deal?
     
  7. Slotness

    Slotness Low-Roller

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    Awesome writeup jaidee, thank you!
    Will have to put a trip to Singapore on my bucket list.
     
  8. jaidee1

    jaidee1 Tourist

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    It's true that you can probably get close to daily rate for exchange but the problem is two fold. Unless your bank reimburses you for interbank withdrawals, you will still pay the equivalent of $5 USD for around $500 withdrawn. Secondly, most gamblers on this board probably will need more than $500 USD to bring to Singapore to gamble so you'll be limited in what you can pull out of an ATM.

    The big complex in Chinatown is right below this tall yellowish building. It's visible from throughout Chinatown and is on the main drag. This complex has at least 10 money changers on the floor but tons of other businesses. Look where there are a bunch of people lined up to change $$$, that'll be the place to go that day.
     
  9. natedog666

    natedog666 17 and 20 Expert

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    Some pictures to go along with Jaidee's wonderful description of MBS

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. blue227

    blue227 Tourist

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    FOLLOW UP: I just returned from my trip to Singapore and other parts of Asia and wanted to post my follow up comments regarding my visit to the Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore.

    It's difficult to add to the fine description offered by Jaidee1 so I will focus my comments an area of interest to me -- slotting.

    During my visit to MBS, I found that 99.9% of the machines were the video reel type with only 4 machines in the entire property that offered old-fashioned reels -- a group of 5-reel Quick Hits machines. This was disappointing for me as I usually avoid video reel slots during my visits to Vegas.

    There were no slots tied into licensed movies, TV shows, singers, etc. on the property. The closest thing I saw was several Tokidoki (fashion icon brand) machines throughout the property. I didn't mind this as much since most licensed slots are video slots.

    I'd estimate that 50-65% of the slots were Asian-themed. This included titles that are available in the US as well as ones that I had never seen before.

    They had progressive slots with jackpots as high as $2 million SGD although I don't know if they were wide area progressives whose max jackpot was tied to similar machines at the Resorts World Singapore casino at Sentosa. There was no equivalents to the Nevada Megabucks WAP slots with a $10+ million jackpot on a $3 bet. The $2 million SGD progressive that I saw was only paid out on max bets which I found to be $30 SGD/pull on penny machines.

    There was a wide range of bets available on the machines I played. I played lower denomination machines compared to what I usually play in Vegas since there was a range of $0.01 to $30.00 SGD that a person could bet per pull. I'd never seen a penny machine offer a single line bet of $0.01 before so this was a first for me. When I first started to play on a penny machine, I mistakenly hit the Max Bet button without bothering to calculate exactly how much I was betting and was surprised to find out that I ended up losing $30.00 so quickly.

    There were no cocktail waitresses serving the slot players. Instead, they had several DIY drink stations throughout the perimeter of the casino that offered cold and hot beverages. I did see some women serving drinks to table players but they were conservatively dressed while they ran back and forth to centrally located push carts that housed several large drink thermoses.

    While I knew ahead of time that I'd have to take my passport with me in order to gain entrance into the casino as a foreign visitor, I didn't realize that I'd have to undergo a TSA-like passport check in order to EXIT the gaming area. I also found that foreign visitors were only allowed to enter the casino from certain entrances. This was sort of a hassle when trying to regain entry into the casino after having lunch in the food court area as the wife and I had to try to find someone who could offer us directions that applied only to foreign visitors.

    In closing, while I won money and had a good time with my visit to MBS, I'd much rather return to Vegas before heading back to Singapore to gamble again.
     
  11. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    Thanks for the info! We'll be in Singapore in November for a few days - probably not gambling, and I will get my money from an ATM, but other great info (might have to go to MBS for a drink - we'll see ;-)
     
  12. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Many older penny video reel games in the US allow you to bet as little as 1 penny.

    Nice summary!
     
  13. DBear

    DBear VIP Whale

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    Excellent topic! I will be in Singapore next month for the first time. I was doing some online research about Singapore and came across MBS. I think I will spend some time there including time to eat at various places plus hang out in the various gardens. I am interested in the hawker style food court at the resort, not necessarily the Gordon Ramsay or Mario Batali restaurants located there ($).

    During my research, I came across Sentosa Island mentioned above. Thanks for posting detailed about it. I previously thought it was just universal studios that was out there and didn't realize there are so many different entertainment options on the island.

    I thought I'd do a search here on VMB as well and was happy to read jaidee and blue227's experiences. I wish I could spend the money to stay at MBS but alas, I am too cheap to even pay to go up their observation deck. I am staying free at a chain hotel using points used on work travel, one of the few benefits of being on the road so much. It's an ok hotel especially compared to North American standards of the same hotel chain but it ain't no MBS with a rooftop infinity pool. Actually, lol, it does have an infinity pool but their roof tops out at something like the 6th floor, not 50-something floors like at MBS. But I'll be happy just walking around the gardens taking pictures.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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