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Former Olympic gold medallist Kong Linghui is being sued in Hong Kong by the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore over his HK$2.55 million (US$329,000) gambling debt.

Each year, millions of mainlanders head to Macau, a special administrative zone of China and the only place in China where gambling is legal.

A small number of mainlanders - like Kong - also head to Singapore, where there are only two gambling resorts.

But these casinos are facing difficulties attracting Chinese gamblers, and have even more issues than their Macau counterparts when it comes to recovering their debts.

Last year, tourist arrivals and spending in the city state hit record highs, buoyed by the arrival of mainland Chinese visitors.

Over 2.86 million stopped in Singapore in 2016, a 36 per cent increase on the previous year.

That’s still small fry compared to Macau, which sees about 20 million mainland gamblers each year.

But while mainland tourists spent 41 per cent more than the year before, much of it was while shopping - not at the casinos, which have seen their revenue slipping in recent years.

In 2015, Chinese tourists spent 27 per cent of their money on sightseeing, entertainment and gambling, but that dropped to 24 per cent last year.

Singapore legalised casino gambling a decade ago, but its two resorts have been struggling in recent years to attract mainland tourists.

The casinos have been hit hard by Beijing’s corruption crackdown and rival casinos popping up around Asia.

The city state’s strict gambling rules have also deterred mainland visitors.