Artist's impression of the design for Marina Bay casino by US gaming operator Las Vegas Sands.
Artist's impression of the design for Marina Bay casino by US gaming operator Las Vegas Sands. - 

KAI RYSSDAL: This might be hard to imagine. But the country best known for outlawing jaywalking, spitting and littering is welcoming the gambling industry. Singapore announced today the Las Vegas Sands will build the country's first casino. It'll also be the world's most expensive. Marketplace's Alisa Roth looked into whether there's a market for vice amid all that virtue.

ALISA ROTH: Las Vegas Sands hit the jackpot in Singapore. It beat out bids from some of the gambling industry's biggest brands, including Harrah's and MGM Mirage.

The precise plans for the 3-point-2 billion dollar project are still under wraps. But the rules stipulate that the casino itself will make up only about 5-percent of development.

Analyst Rod Petrik says that shouldn't matter:

ROD PETRIK: What you have is a Las Vegas model. You're not just bringing in gaming, you're bringing in the entertainment with the shows, you're bringing in the restaurants, you're bringing in the retail. And so I believe that with Singapore trying to generate some economic stimulus with this project, as well as create the vehicle to enhance tourism, looking for that same kind of experience.

There won't be much competition locally. Gaming's only been legal in Singapore for about a year. And the government will allow only two casinos to operate for at least a decade.

The Asian market for gaming is enormous. Asian tourists make up a big chunk of the business in Las Vegas.

William Thompson researches gambling at the University of Nevada. He says Singapore's location is ideal. It's a hub for business. And the resort could only add to that.

WILLIAM THOMPSON: They're accessible to China, they've got a closeby large population of Malaysians, Japan has not legalized casinos yet, India is only 4 or 5 hours away by air. It's a very very big market.

The new resort is scheduled to open by 2009.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.