The 12 months from April 4, 2019 – the date when Singapore increased by 50 percent the cost of either a daily or yearly casino-entry pass for the city-state’s nationals and permanent residents – had coincided with a 1.3-percentage points fall in the proportion of the local adult population that made up the visitors to those two casinos, said Tan Tee How, chairman of the city-state’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA).
The levy increase – to SGD3,000 (US$2,195) for an annual pass, and SGD150 for a daily one – had been to “ensure that Singaporeans continue to be protected against the potential harms of casino gambling,” Mr Tan noted in the CRA’s annual report for 2019-2020.
He indicated that “one year after the increase,” casino visits made by Singapore citizens and permanent residents dropped to 2.7 percent of the local adult population in financial year 2019, from 4.0 percent in financial year 2018.
Mr Tan added: “Since the casinos opened in 2010, the probable problem- and pathological-gambling rate has decreased from 2.6 percent to 0.9 percent in 2017. “This suggests that the social safeguards have been effective,” he further noted.
Separately, the CRA provided some figures on casino visits by locals for the years 2017 to 2019 inclusive, in response to an enquiry from Chinese-language local newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.
According to the news outlet, the authority told it that in financial year 2017, “approximately” 130,000 locals visited casinos. In financial year 2018, the tally was 127,000, and in financial year 2019 – the year of the levy increase – the aggregate of such visits was 88,000, according to the reply.
This year, Singapore’s two casino resorts – Marina Bay Sands run by a unit of Las Vegas Sands Corp; and Resorts World Sentosa, run by Genting Singapore Ltd – were closed from April 7 as part of countermeasures by the city-state against Covid-19, and reopened on July 1.
Upon reopening, the gaming facilities were available only to certain participants in membership schemes, or to annual levy pass holders, at a time when most foreigners were not being permitted to enter Singapore.
During the period covered by the 2019-2020 CRA report, Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd, the promoter of Marina Bay Sands, received fines totalling SGD145,000 for four breaches of the city’s Casino Control Act.
Resorts World at Sentosa Pte Ltd, the promoter of Resorts World Sentosa, received one SGD20,000 fine for a breach of the act, for “failure to prevent one minor from entering and/or remaining on its casino premises without reasonable excuse”.
Resorts World Sentosa also received a letter of censure for a breach of the city’s Casino Control (Gaming Equipment) Regulations 2009, namely “failure to ensure that gaming equipment used in its casino is of a class approved by the Authority”.
In other matters, in response to what the CRA chairman’s commentary termed “emerging trends in the gambling landscape” internationally – including Internet gambling via mobile devices – Mr Tan noted that the CRA would be “reconstituted” in 2021 in order to “oversee the entire gambling landscape,” for Singapore, under the mantle of a body to be known as the Gambling Regulatory Authority.