SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Wynn Resorts Ltd., headed by Las Vegas gaming impresario Steve Wynn, has dropped its bid to build Singapore's first casino, a government official said, leaving five groups in the race for the estimated $3.1 billion project.
Five groups, including three of the biggest names in the casino industry -- U.S. companies Harrah's Entertainment Inc., MGM Mirage, and Las Vegas Sands Corp. -- had submitted disclosure documents to Singapore's government by Friday's deadline, the Singapore Tourism Board said in a statement.
"We remain confident that we will continue to have very strong proposals to choose from," Margaret Teo, the board's director for integrated resorts, said in a statement late on Friday confirming that Wynn Resorts had pulled out of the bidding for the first of two planned casino-resorts.
Singapore invited 12 casino firms and developers to bid for the right to build an "iconic" resort on a par with the Sydney Opera House or Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum, to put the city-state on the map.
The wealthy city-state, which lifted a ban on casinos this year despite strong public opposition, is hoping the two casinos will lure more tourists and boost economic growth.
Singapore's two gaming resorts are expected to cost as much as US$5 billion, including US$3.1 billion for the first one, Merrill Lynch has estimated. The government set a S$1.2 billion price tag for the land for its first casino.
Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., Australia's largest gaming group, has also withdrawn from the race. It said on Friday it had pulled out due to rising development costs.
Of three U.S. casino operators still in the running, two have teamed up with Singapore government-linked property companies.
The five groups include Harrah's together with Singapore's Keppel Land Ltd.; MGM Mirage with Singapore's CapitaLand Ltd.; and Las Vegas Sands Corp., which said last week that it was still in talks with possible partners.
Malaysian gaming firm Genting International, a unit of Genting Bhd., has teamed up with Star Cruises Ltd., while Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho's Melco International Development Ltd. joined with Australia's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd., which is owned by media magnate Kerry Packer, a keen gambler.
Singapore's first casino development will be located on a downtown waterfront site. The winning bid is expected to be announced by the middle of next year.