Iswaran confirmed that for the country to continue the support for the night race, "the terms must be economically viable." The potential deal breaker hinged on the licensing fee, which Formula One Management (FOM) is sticking to a figure similar to last year's US$44 million. The cost of staging the race is estimated at $150 million, but each event is now said to bring in only about $160 million in tourism dollars. Subtract the loss in retail business in the cordoned off Marina area, and it's not difficult to imagine the red ink bled since day one.
Compare the numbers to the $195 million in casino entry levies collected by the government last year. In the first 6 months of this year alone, $93 million has already been pocketed. Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo said the casino entry levies collected by the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board) are used for social and charitable purposes. Since 2009, she claimed the government has more than doubled its expenditure on containing gambling ills, from $3.8 million in FY09 to $9 million in FY11. Now, that's a real money maker there, without the high decibel noise and inconveniences imposed. And if the government is serious about addressing the social ills of gambling, they could raise the levy to $200 as proposed by some. That translates into another extra $195 million (based on last year's bonanza) in the kitty. Heck, even if they spend another $10 million to "contain gambling ills", the economic model is just too juicy to ignore.
To think it all started because Lee Kuan Yew once told a dinner gathering of CitiBank staff that he was stupid not to realise money could be made by watching cars go round and round a circuit. Channel NewsAsia (CNA) changed the word to "dim-witted" in their report to tone down the personal assessment of his business acumen - same way they changed "fix the opposition" gaffe to "counter the opposition" - but it looks like the ugly truth is finally out. Don't shed tears for Bernie. He's the guy who admires Adolf Hitler because "he gets things done."