Singapore Casinos Can’t Have “Free Play”

Posted: October 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Singapore To Have Social Safeguard Against Problem Gambling

13 Oct 2011

News report extracted from Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports said it will be reinforcing social safeguards against problem gambling. It is one of the several priorities spelt on in the ministry’s addendum to the President’s speech.

More measures are expected to be announced soon to also target heavy and frequent gamblers before they get addicted.

In a recent interview with Channel News Asia, Acting Minister Chan Chun Sing hinted that raising the current S$100 levy to enter casinos is not likely to be an option to solve the problem.

He said: “It’s not just about the casino. If you want to tackle the gambling issue, you have to look holistically across all the factors that are driving this, with or without the casino. It is an issue that is of concern to us. I think the biggest challenge is not the casino – you have things like Internet gaming, Internet gambling. The kind of solutions that we need are much more complex.

“But at the same time, we have to be much more focused… The closest to my heart are people who are vulnerable, some of the low income, the elderly… I would not see it as a levy issue.”

The National Council for Problem gambling is calling for a tender within the next three months for professional credit and financial advisory services.

Singapore casino credit crunch?

Separately, the ministry also said it will enhance efforts to help at-risk youth stay on the right path.

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Professional Ground casino panel’s comment:

We are not surprised at all with Singapore government’s response to curb gambling problems in the city state.  All city casino destinations around the world are facing the same problem – that its population placed too near (and convenient) to casinos. 

It is apparent that Singapore will adopt macro approach towards controlling and managing the negative impact of problem-gambling, especially from the two IR casinos.

Though at the moment the casino levy would not be raised, as the government might think that it’s short-term and partial solution, in the long run there is no guarantee that the levy (currently at S$100 per entry) will not be reviewed to compliment whatever prevention (of problem-gambling) policies to be implemented.

This is not really a best situation the two IR casino operators could hope for. Going forward, it is expected that Singapore casino revenues will grow only moderately or stay flat without “aggressive” Junket operations.  As at this moment, it is unlikely the authority to issue any Junket license before the new problem-gambling prevention program roll out.  Even when the authority finally grants Junket licenses, it is expected that most of the China/Hong Kong/Macau junkets will not be included in the list.  The reason is simple:  They are likely to be Triad linked as reported widely. 

In conclusion, there is no free play for Singapore casino operators, yet.  Probably not in the forseeable future.   

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