A few weeks ago, I was visiting Singapore and Indonesia, for a short holiday. After all, all work and no play is never good. And as casino gambling can be a stressful activity, it’s definitely never good for a gambler.
Whilst my Singapore break was mainly for relaxation, I did do a bit of business whilst in the region. I also decided I’d visit the various Singapore casinos, as a VIP player. I rang in advance and spoke to casino hosts at each property, to arrange a tour of the main property highlights, and allow a chance to discuss VIP player packages that may be available. That’s a step that I recommend for all international casino VIP players. Pre-arranging your meetings with the casino executives / hosts really does smooth things out before arrival.
I visited the Marina Bay Sands Singapore first. This was an impressive property, and its easy to see why it cost over $5 billion to build. It was luxurious and leading edge, and had a nice atmosphere overall. From a distance, the Marina Bay Sands (or MBS as it’s known locally) looks like 3 buildings with a boat on top. The “boat” is of course the famed Sky Park, with the infinity swimming pool. This pool looks like it falls over the edge of the building – literally, but rest assured, all guests are very safe and secure due to the thick glass screen in place. It’s a nice place to relax, and I can see it as a good way to unwind after a few hours at the tables. There are restaurants in the Sky Park area too, along with a great public viewing platform, offering expansive views over Singapore.
After touring the Sky Park, I toured the MBS VIP rooms. These were smaller and more personal than I had expected. The emphasis here is definitely on refined, personal service, in comfortable but private rooms. Betting limits differed from room to room (each room typically had one blackjack table, one roulette table, and 1 or 2 baccarat tables), but I remember baccarat limits of $300 – $150,000 in one room, and $500 to $300,000 in another, as examples. These rooms and betting limits are not for the faint hearted.
The VIP casino area has its own separate bar, in which you can sit and sip your choice of beverage. These drinks however must usually be purchased, using cash or points. I’m pretty sure that comps could be arranged however.
The shopping at the Marina Bay Sands is definitely high end. Prada, Gucci, and similar brands covet for position in the large shopping mall (that I got a bit lost in). This is no bargain basement: if you’re coming here looking for a cheap holiday, this is not the place (unless you win a good amount in the casino itself). But it is a tasteful, decadent, and well appointed entertainment complex, that’s impressive and worth visiting.
Downstairs on the main Marina Bay Sands casino floor, I noted a strong preference towards slot machines as the game of choice. There were many new slot machines from a variety of slot machine manufacturers, with most averaging $1 – $2 a spin or more. Yes, there are 40 line machines, but unlike in New Zealand and Australia where you can play one credit one line, most of the machines I played were configured so that the number of lines was not selectable, only the amount of coins bet per line. So, a 5c machine with 40 lines would let you bet $2, $4, $6, $8, or $10 a spin – but not 20c a spin. After my initial shock at this, I soon got into the groove of playing. If you’ve got a low slot machine play budget however, please be aware of this configuration. $100 doesn’t go far at $2 a spin.
Baccarat games were everywhere, and quite a few roulette tables were also available. Blackjack was available but only at a small number of tables by comparison to baccarat. The smallest blackjack minimum I noted was $25 a hand, with $50 being more prolific. In the VIP rooms, I recall blackjack spreads being $100 – $5000 or thereabouts. I played for a few hours at Marina Bay Sands, mainly smaller level play, but I’ll visit again on my next trip to Singapore, with a more significant bankroll.
I also visited Resorts World at Sentosa Island when in Singapore. Wow, Sentosa Island sure has changed since I was there a few years back. It’s much more commercially focused than I recall before. The Resorts World casino was a little tricky to find at first, as it’s not above ground. To enter the casino, you need to ride an elevator deep into the bowels of the earth (ok, not that far, but it felt like it), as the whole casino gaming area is underground, and covered at ground level. Presumably, this is to make the most of available space on Sentosa Island, and also to keep the island as a whole a “family friendly” resort. Unlike Las Vegas where casinos are literally in your face at every turn, this casino was delicately hidden from view. That said, following the signage wasn’t difficult. And I quite enjoyed the escalator ride down.
When you enter the Singapore Resorts World casino, you’re greeted (after the $100 duty line – free for non-residents) by a lovely Dale Chihuly sculpture area. Walk past the sculpture and the main casino floor comes into view. Despite being underground, this is an impressive place. It was certainly very busy when I was there, on a weekday, mid-afternoon. There were a large variety of games, with combinations and table layouts similar to the Marina Bay Sands. Again I didn’t see blackjack under $25 a hand. I expect these higher table limits are part of the reason that the two Singapore casinos are doing so well in these early days. Resorts World came around with free water, tea and coffee quite often, which I thought was a nice touch. I didn’t notice any of that at Marina Bay Sands, but maybe I just wasn’t there at the right time.
Definitely the Singapore Resorts World casino catered better, I think, for the average casino player on holiday. It was less formal, a bit more “normal” in atmosphere, and the shopping area was definitely more middle of the road. If I had to express a preference for a general holiday, Resorts World would be my probable choice. If I was looking to play at higher levels, then Marina Bay Sands would be the casino to visit.
The VIP rooms at Resorts World offered a great range of games, and excellent table limits to cater for all gamblers. For example, I saw $10 roulette and $25 blackjack / pontoon in abundance, which surprised me. The VIP restaurant served a nice buffet for just $10, or you could get the buffet for just 5 GP (Genting Points) – which is easy to obtain. Another bonus of the Resorts World casino is that the Genting Highlands casino in Malaysia, not too far away, also uses the Genting Points system. Whilst a separate player card is needed for each property, it’s likely that qualifying for VIP access at the Singapore Resorts World would also qualify you for VIP at Genting Highlands. I’ll find out for myself later this year when I visit that location.
Regardless of your playing style and preference, either of the Singapore casinos offers a true international gambling experience of high quality. Staff are polite and well trained, games seem fair to play, and the food and beverages available are excellent. If you’ve visited either of these casino destinations, let me know your own thoughts.
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