Wave of Success for Casino Cruise Off Singapore

Leisure cruises with gambling that sail in international waters off Singapore lost some business after land-based casinos opened in the republic in 2010. But they’re packing them in again, in part because of a $100 entry fee at the casinos on land.

Players primarily from Singapore, Malaysia

Business is good again aboard the Leisure World cruise ship, which sails in international waters off the Indonesian island of Batam, reports the Straits Times. In 2010, when two casinos opened in Singapore, the floating casino’s “cruise to nowhere” saw a big dip in revenues.

But business is booming again thanks to players, mainly elderly and mostly Singaporean, who do not want to pay a $100 levy to enter the land-based casinos. The cruise also attracts a Malaysian clientele.

“Our business dropped drastically after the casinos opened,” a spokesman for New Century Tours, the ship’s Singapore-based tour operator, told the Times. “We had fewer than 500 passengers on some days. But as the Singapore casinos lost their novelty, the crowds started to come back in 2013.” Now the cruise attracts 600 and 700 passengers daily.

At one time, three floating casinos sailed these waters. Leisure World is the only one known to be operating close to Singapore now.

A retired shipyard worker in his 60s who has been “bitten by the gambling bug” says he takes the trip at least once a week. And a 70-year-old woman said she’s also a regular, and takes the cruise because “there is nothing to do at home, and it is very boring.”