New YorkIn mid March, New York State lawmakers agreed to begin the process to legalize public casinos and pledged to amend the state constitution to allow seven new casinos to operate. The location of the new gaming properties will be decided next year. The state will be able to legalize the casinos if two successively elected legislatures enact bills; the measure would then have to be approved by voters. New York currently only allows table gambling in Native American resorts. The state also allows companies to open and run video lottery terminals at two racetracks, including Aqueduct in the New York City borough of Queens.
The move to approve casino gambling has been championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed an agreement in January with Genting New York, a division of the Malaysian firm that operates casinos worldwide along with the Queens facility, for the latter to invest $4 billion to build a 3.8 million-square-foot convention center, hotel and expanded casino on the 67-acre site. -- Lisa A. Grimaldi
CaliforniaThe Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs completed a $2.1 million renovation of its 228 guest rooms, corridors and lobby last November. The upgraded rooms now feature new mattresses, 42-inch flat-screen televisions, a clock radio with iPhone/iPod ports and additional new furnishings. The property has more than 10,000 square feet of function space, a 30,000-square-foot casino with 29 table games, five restaurants and a spa. -- Michael C. Lowe
The Agua Caliente Spa Resort Casino, also in Palm Springs, last October opened a new upscale cocktail lounge called Rendezvous, offering a variety of wines, martinis and specialty cocktails. Last spring the property introduced allergy-friendly rooms that undergo a seven-step purification process to remove allergens and irritants from all surfaces and fabrics. The 340-room property has a 71,000-square-foot casino, 10,000 square feet of meeting space, six restaurants and a 10,500-square-foot spa.
CaribbeanIn Nassau, the Bahamas, the Baha Mar development is set to debut in 2014. The upscale hotel, convention, gaming and retail complex in the Cable Beach district already has two properties: the 694-room Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and the 550-room Wyndham Nassau Resort. Three more hotel companies have committed to build at the site: Rosewood Hotels and Resorts (200 rooms), Morgans Hotel Group (300 rooms), and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts (700 rooms). The operator of the complex's casino property, which will have 1,000 guest rooms, had not been named at press time. -- Lisa A. Grimaldi
MacauOne of the long-standing leaders in international gaming, Macau has enjoyed the arrival of even more visitors and spending recently. According to the Macau Government Tourist Office, the total number of visitors was up 12.2 percent in Q4 2011, year-over-year, while the number of international visitors increased by 2.2 percent. Meanwhile, spending on gaming was up 38.4 percent, to US$22.3 billion, between January and September 2011 over the same time period the year before.
No doubt this healthy uptick was enhanced by last year's opening of a US$1.9 billion luxury resort complex featuring three new five-star hotels: the 1,459-room Galaxy Macau, the 487-room Hotel Okura Macau and the 253-room Banyan Tree Macau. Together, the properties are run by Galaxy Entertainment and offer 12 different meeting venues ranging from 860 square feet to more than 14,300 square feet. Also on-site are the 36,000-square-foot, award-winning Banyan Tree Spa and what's billed as the world's largest rooftop wave pool.
Macau is about to get another major boost with the much-anticipated opening of the Sheraton Macao Hotel in September. The 3,863-room property will be the largest in Macau -- not to mention the biggest in Starwood's collection. In the heart of the Cotai Strip, the Sheraton Macao will feature a total of 214,080 square feet of meeting space, a Shine Spa, three pools and a fitness center with a program by Core Performance. -- Agatha Gilmore
SingaporeA relative newcomer to the gaming market, Singapore has enjoyed a vigorous increase in visitors and spending the past year. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, international visitor arrivals for Q3 2011 reached nearly 3.5 million, representing a 15 percent year-over-year growth. The number of visitors from the Unites States, in particular, was up 6 percent. Meanwhile, spending on gaming grew by 9 percent in Q3 2011 over the same period in 2010. -- Agatha Gilmore
Would-be gamblers now have more places to stay in Singapore with the opening of the 172-room Equarius Hotel and 22 new beach villas within the Resorts World Sentosa complex. The hotels are adjacent to a 7.2-acre tropical rainforest and offer great views of the waterfront and harbor. Together they feature seven meeting rooms, an event pavilion, a gym and a swimming pool. In the works at Equarius: Award-winning celebrity chef Sam Leong is opening a new restaurant.
In June, the new Gardens by the Bay complex will open in downtown Singapore with three waterfront gardens spanning nearly 250 acres, showcasing all manner of horticultural artistry. The Meadow will serve as Singapore's largest outdoor garden events venue, shaped like a flower bowl and accommodating up to 30,000 people. The complex also offers five additional indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, as well as performances stages.
Even more international visitors will be able to find their way to Singapore in 2012 with the launching of the new International Cruise Terminal. The facility will double Singapore's berth capacity and enable more cruise ships to visit the region. The massive port will accommodate the world's largest ships and will complement the existing Singapore Cruise Centre.