A few weeks ago, Tan Sri Vincent Tan said that he would like to apply again for a casino license and that he would want to spend RM3 Billion to build it what would include a casino complex, indoor and outdoor theme parks, food and retail outlets, hotels, a convention centre and holiday homes in the Berjaya Hills resort area. Personally, I have been there three times and I enjoyed only my first time there. The last time was last month and it was the worst. The queue was so long everyone got checked in only at 430pm! My in-laws from Sandakan said that it was their worst ever experience and I agreed fully. Anyway, I am sure the RM3 billion would be spent wisely to improve everything that is not really working today at Berjaya Hills.
Today, in The Star, it was reported that Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan said that should there be a second license for casino, he would have the opportunity for ‘a right of first refusal’. In this case, it simply meant that if the second casino license was given, it would be given to the Low Yat Group first before it would be offered to others. It goes all the way back to 1970 when our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman granted them a casino license on the condition that Low Yat group builds a hotel and country club in Langkawi. While the hotel was completed in 1973, the casino plan did not materialise because there were not enough infrastructure to support it then.
This grant was reaffirmed in 1993 when he wrote to the Treasury and got a reply two months later that while there are no plans for a second casino licence but should a reverse decision be made, Yow Chuan would be granted the opportunity for a ‘right of first refusal’. If an approval was given, an integrated resort with a casino complex would be built and the total investment would be between RM3 billion to RM4 billion. This would not just be a casino but would also include the latest lifestyle and entertainment trends like food, live shows, theatres and themed retail stores.
Personally, I do not think any decision would be made soon and if it should be made, I seriously do not think it would be in KL or Penang. Perhaps it may be Iskandar to target Singaporeans and PR who cannot visit their own casino? Perhaps it may be in a smaller town which may then become the next city of entertainment? A casino is not considered a good thing morally but in Malaysia, a casino is always complemented by a host of other entertainment potential and this would create more business job opportunities. Also, there are hard and fast rules on who can enter and who cannot. Would I support the decision for a new casino? The fact is, I would support any new development which is well though of and not a white elephant. So, answer is Yes. Please give it to a good developer and not just the lowest bidder.
written on 14 July 2014
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