What Does It Cost To Build A Casino?

Marina Bay Sands Source: Wikimedia While you’re playing casino games on your mobile device, have you ever wondered what it would be like to own a casino yourself? So if you were to play mobile casino games and win jackpots, how much money would it cost to turn that dream into a reality? Where would you locate your new casino? And perhaps most important of all, what are your chances of making a profit from your real estate acquisition?

Casino location

You would need to site any land-based casino somewhere close to large centres of population. So in New Zealand that probably means Auckland or some other larger city like Wellington or Christchurch. While it might not be essential to have your casino absolutely in the heart of an urban area, it would certainly need to be accessible. And in addition, some luxury and/or scenic setting would be vital to give you a good chance of attracting the right people with money to spend. Incidentally, it’s no accident that even modern land-based casinos are built to resemble palaces – that’s why you’ll need that stunning, landscaped location.

Casino building costs

The trend is to build a casino as part of a hotel, or even within a larger ‘resort complex’ focusing on all kinds of leisure activities. The big, Las-Vegas style casino resorts like Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands house breathtaking facilities: 1400 slot machines, 1000 gaming tables plus a hotel complex which has 2,500 luxury suites and surrounding parklands (Sky Park) where you could comfortably accommodate a fleet of luxury jets. All told, Marina Bay Sands cost around $5.5 billion at 2010 prices. So similar construction projects are likely to cost a little more these days. And if that seems a bit steep, remember that the MGM Mirage Center in Las Vegas itself cost $8.8 billion to put together in 2009. But, in fairness, it should be added that the Mirage Center also included over 67 acres of shopping facilities and residential towers, as well as a number of hotels. There’s no doubt that such mammoth projects tend to make money. For instance, way back in 1989, Steve Wynn’s ‘Mirage, Las Vegas’ cost $630 million to create and needed to clear $1 million a day over 7 years to cover the vast construction bill. In fact, the casino managed to wipe off the massive debt inside 18 months – an astounding achievement. So casino building costs are invariably high, but the profits can be very rewarding too. Mansion at MGM Grand Las Vegas Source: Wikimedia

An online alternative?

So would a mobile-friendly online casino be a better bet? For a start, your e-casino would not have the physical building costs and maintenance overheads of a land-based unit, which also means it could be set up far quicker. Then you need to put some thought into what style your casino brand will have because that will also dictate what software games you decide to promote. Depending on your requirements, you’ll pay anything from $100,000 to $300,000 for a software development package. In addition, you would probably be expected to make royalty payments of 15-45% calculated on your net profits. Or as an alternative option, you could effectively start a casino franchise using someone else’s tried and tested business model. That too would attract a royalty payment in the region of 35% of your net profit every month. The physical location of an online casino is often determined by licensing considerations. Many operators go for Gibraltar which is subject to UK laws and where a gaming license costs around $2,500. This compares favourably with a Caribbean base such as Antigua where a casino license can be about $100,000. Adding in other costs such as banking associates, branding, initial marketing and hardware, your entire project launch would set you back anything from $1-2 million as a minimum. Nevertheless, provided that it was properly run, there is every chance that you could recoup your investment and probably even realise a significant profit too. But the whole business of running efficiently involves securing a good level of web traffic. And that, in turn, means effective marketing and promotion. To be successful, advertising your fledgling casino will certainly require a regular minimum investment of something like $50,000 each month – major online brands will budget to spend a lot more. So as you can see, the online casino market can be profitable. But you will need to be a mega-jackpot winner to afford the setup costs.
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