Singapore’s Casino Trio: Gambling in Asia’s Theme Park Nation

Singapore boasts the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts Word Sentosa casinos and an offshore casino cruise. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

Singapore is an extraordinary destination by any standards. At the lower tip of Malaysia, across the water from Indonesia, Singapore inspires awe with its many accomplishments. This is an Asian nation dedicated to European-level good order and old-fashioned moneymaking. For Kiwi punters, it’s also a fabulous destination for an unforgettable weekend of glamorous gambling. Unlike nearby Macau, there is no long national tradition of gambling. Gaming here was only legalized in 2006, and you can count the casino options on one hand. But since 2010, there have been two truly world-class, mega casinos. This small but mighty nation offers a high roller experience within easy reach of New Zealand players. There are just two main gambling alternatives in town, and one offshore – all are sensational. If you have a long weekend, we suggest trying all three. At this time, New Zealand and Singapore Dollars are equivalent so you should have no trouble with conversion maths.

Marina Bay Sands Casino

This is something extraordinary even compared to the wonders of Vegas or Macau. Part of a multi-billion dollar resort, owned by the Las Vegas Sands, this is one of Asia’s top entertainment complexes. The casino requires an entry levy of NZ$100 for 24 hour access. Look up and you will see the world’s largest chandelier, weighing 7 tons, comprising upwards of 130,000 Swarovski crystals.

There are 15,000 square meters to play in. 600 gaming tables and more than 2300 pokies, called “jackpot machines” locally. There are 30 VIP rooms.

Worn out from wagering or want to refuel your lucky streak? Head up to the SkyPark for a stunning 200m high view of Singapore and some of the glitziest venues in the Lion City. Tropical gardens, restaurants, nightclubs, and a huge 150m open air infinity pool.  There are hundreds of top-shelf brand shops in which to spend your winnings.

Resorts World Sentosa Casino

The Resorts World Sentosa Casino is a glittering jewel in the crown of this sprawling integrated resort on an island adjacent to Singapore proper.  The resort includes 4 hotels, Universal Studios, and Marine Life Park, the world’s largest oceanariums. The resort’s a full day outing for the family, but the casino is where the adults come out to play, mostly at night, though it’s open around the clock.

Set in the opulent basement of the Crockfords Tower Hotel, there are 15,000 sqm of gaming facilities. The casino, owned and operated by the Genting Group, is powered primarily by IGT machines. There are more than 500 tables games and well over a thousand “jackpot machines”.

Singapore Casino Cruises

Singapore is surrounded by the sea, so consider taking a day, night or 24 hour cruise in international waters. Enjoy the ocean breezes and unlimited visits to the Chinese restaurant onboard. On the Aegean Paradise cruise liner there are 40 gaming tables to choose from, featuring blackjack and poker along with Chinese favourites. There are a few hundred pokies scattered about. The betting limits are lower than at the city casinos. Get in on the action here from just NZ$2.

The cost is surprisingly modest. An evening cruise starts from just NZ$25, while a private cabin costs from NZ$40 weekdays and $80 on weekends.  Start your trip at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

Getting to and from Singapore

You can find an Auckland-Singapore return ticket for around NZ$700. Those rates are for one or two stops, flying on Air Asia, and it’s nearly a full day of flying. Other carriers will be twice as expensive, but the travel time may be cut in half. You can find direct or one-stop flights on Singapore Airlines or Qantas and arrive well-rested and ready for a night on the town.

After landing at ultra-efficient Changi Airport, hop on the fast clean MRT into town for about NZ$3. Or get an Uber ride to your hotel for NZ$10.  Transport will be the least of your costs in Singapore.

Where to Stay

For the ultimate experience, consider staying at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. A night in one of its three 550m tall towers will set you back NZ$380-500 but there are plenty of perks. Book through the hotel and score a significant discount compared to online booking sites. If you are a Sands member or recognised high roller, use your pull and perks to get discounts and upgrades. 

If your venue of choice is Resorts World, consider staying at one of the four top-flight hotels on Sentosa. Crockfords, above the casino, will lighten your bankroll by a cool NZ$500-750 per night. But then you just need to take the lift down to the tables.

Casino Access

Access to casinos in Singapore is free for foreigners above the age of 21. Be sure to bring along your passport or other official ID. Singaporeans and permanent residents pay a stiff “levy” for theprivilege of playing, a business model designed to boost government revenues and discourage local gambling. Now the Singapore casino levy is a model for emulation in Japan and elsewhere. Problem gambling rates in Singapore are reported to be among the lowest in the world, with responsible gambling guidance similar to those in place in highly regulated New Zealand.

Singapore, though tourist-friendly, is big on law and order. Cameras are everywhere, and nowhere more than in its casinos. Try to cheat, skim or scam and you almost certainly will be caught.

What to Wear

A night at one of Singapore’s city casinos is a dress-up occasion, although relatively casual compared to black-tie Monte Carlo. Shorts, T-shirts, slippers or flip-flops will get you a polite but firm refusal at the door.

Bottom Line

A weekend gambling in Singapore is well within reach of Kiwis. Sample first-class gaming at its two mega-casinos. Then take a day or evening at sea for the more modest and casual casino cruise. Win or lose, you’ll have a memorable experience in the Lion City!