Singapore has grabbed a slice of Vegas glitz with the official opening of its second “integrated resort”, Marina Bay Sands.

The huge US$5.5 billion development features a casino, 2560-room hotel and the usual shopping mall, restaurants and exhibition spaces to be expected from such a complex. Topping the hotel is a spectacular skypark, looking like an ocean liner spanning the tops of the triple towers and providing an open green space 194m above ground level.

Singapore first gave approval for casinos in 2005 and developers sprang into action. Marina Bay Sands was supposed to open in 2009 but due to delays, was still slightly less than complete at today’s opening. The remaining sections should be open to the public before the end of this year, and Sands is expecting 70-80,000 visitors a day.

It is also Las Vegas’ Sands resort company’s first Asian casino outside Macau. Singapore hopes to boost its tourist numbers particularly its share of the region’s mega rich high roller wealth. It makes something of a change of focus for Singapore’s economy, heavily reliant on trade up to now.

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