Marina Bay Sands becomes a photo op on Kim Jong-Un’s night on the town in Singapore By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports June 14, 2018 at 7:30 am We should have expected Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands to make a cameo appearance during this week’s historic summit between the U.S. and North Korea. Developed by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp at a cost of more than $5.7 billion, the three-towered, 57-story hotel-casino-resort became an immediate Singapore landmark when it opened in 2010. The venue’s centerpiece is the three-acre SkyPark, which sits atop the three hotel towers and weighs almost 7,000 tons. The SkyPark offers panoramic views of Singapore’s waterfront and the island nation’s skyline. It includes the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, and three restaurants and bars. North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un thought it was worth checking out. Evening photo of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore An impromptu guided tour Monday evening – led by Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan – included the Gardens by the Bay and the Jubilee Bridge, which links Merlion Park with a promenade in front of Singapore’s Esplanade. Balakrishnan and Kim posed for a selfie on the bridge. Afterward, Kim’s entourage, which included a large contingent of security, barged through the Marina Bay Sands’ front doors and up the elevators to the SkyPark. International media documented the surprise visit, where Marina Bay Sands guests – held back by security – shouted out Kim’s name as if the North Korean dictator was a visiting Hollywood celebrity. I’m not sure the resort visit was quite what Adelson imagined when it was announced Kim and President Donald Trump would make Singapore the destination for their meeting Tuesday. Although he’s closely aligned with Adelson, the Republican Party’s largest financial contributor, Trump didn’t leave his suite at the St. Regis Hotel. Instead, it was Kim who jumped at the opportunity to visit the resort. He has rarely ventured outside North Korea since assuming power in 2011 following his father’s death. Perhaps he sensed the timing was right to loosen his collar, take a stroll, and see how the other half lives. Kim bypassed the casino, however. That area might have been a little too close to home. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong-Nam, a noted gambler who was regularly spotted in Macau, often frequented a Japanese restaurant at Marina Bay Sands during his Singapore gambling excursions. The brother was assassinated in Malaysia last year, a homicide widely believed to be ordered by Kim Jong-Un. Marina Bay Sands is one of two casinos Singapore legalized more than a decade ago to boost tourism. Gaming, however, was ordered not to be the focal point of either development. In addition to the SkyPark, Las Vegas Sands built 1 million square feet of convention space, 1 million square feet of retail, several entertainment venues, 2,560 hotel rooms, and dozens of restaurants operated by celebrity chefs. An up close look of the SkyDeck at the Marina Bay Sands Malysisa-based Genting Berhad won the other license in the heated bidding process and built Resorts World Sentosa, which includes a Universal Studios theme park. So far, the model has worked. In their first full year of operations, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa produced a combined $5.1 billion in gaming revenue. Following the release of those numbers, analysts from the Royal Bank of Scotland forecasted that Singapore would eventually overtake the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s second biggest gaming center behind Macau. That prediction didn’t hold true. Last year, Singapore gaming revenue was $4.7 billion, with Marina Bay Sands covering 62 percent of the total. Macau provides Las Vegas Sands 77 percent of the company’s annual revenues. But Marina Bay Sands, which contributed 24.5 percent of the company’s 2017 revenue figure ($12.88 billion), still holds an importance to the casino operator. “Marina Bay Sands is very important for Las Vegas Sands,” said Union Gaming Group analyst John DeCree. “It’s about a third of the company’s property EBITDA and a significant source of free cash flow. It’s also a trophy asset that highlights Las Vegas Sands’ development expertise when it comes to integrated resorts.” That’s why some pundits speculated that Marina Bay Sands would host the summit. Adelson, 84, has direct access to the Oval Office and Trump, himself a former Atlantic City casino owner. Currently No. 12 on the Forbes 400 with a net worth of $32 billion, Adelson has committed $30 million toward the 2018 election. He’s trying to personally protect the GOP’s majority in the House. In 2016, Adelson, his family and his companies donated more than $82.5 million to Republican candidates. This followed collective political donations of $93.1 million in 2012. Adelson has long advocated a move of the U.S. Embassy in Israeli from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an action Trump set in place this spring. But other than a quick photo opportunity, Marina Bay Sands was shut out of the summit. Capella Resort on Sentosa Island was the meeting’s location. The luxury hotel is a 15-minute walk from Resorts World Sentosa. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.