Casinos are a great source of revenue for a country and due to this many countries encourage the operation of casinos within their boundaries. But the easy access to casinos can encourage the citizens of that very country to engage in gambling activities. This can lead to a backfiring situation for the government. In order to avoid such situations, every casino-operating country makes sure to prepare and implement strict laws that keep the citizens away from casinos. Singapore is no exception to this.
The two casino giants in Singapore, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Genting Singapore (GEN.SI), might be seeing major changes in the Singapore Casino Control Act leading to the toughening up of rules. The changes proposed in the law aim at bringing about the changes that will be in the benefit of both the government and the citizens.
• The proposed amendments aim to put a check on problem gamblers and limit the number of visits per month for Singaporeans. A Singapore citizen is not permitted to visit the casino more than five times a month. Along with the limited visits, he or she may now have to furnish proof that they are not in any kind of financial distress and do not face any kind of restrictions. This has been proposed to keep a check on vulnerable groups and protect them from the harms of casino gambling.
• The amendment proposals also plan to allow the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) to impose fines amounting up to ten percent of the generated annual revenues. In the present circumstances, fines imposed can go up to a maximum of S$1 million. When the proposals are passed, the fine amount can go up to a whopping S$200 million. As per a minister in the Prime Minister’s office, these changes are proposed to enable Singapore’s multi-million dollar business function successfully as full-fledged tourist destination.
• The proposal also includes clauses as per which the casinos are to immediately notify the CRA of any kind of unresolved patron dispute.
• Another proposal involving junkets, also known as International Market Agents (IMA), is also included in the amendments. It will empower the CRA to impose a cap on the commissions casino companies pay them. In addition to this, the penalties levied on illegal junkets will also be increased. In March the CRA had given out its first IMA licenses to two Malaysian junkets. These licenses are to be renewed annually.
• The proposed amendments also include VIP casino visitors. Post changes, all VIP high rollers will have to draw down their SG$100,000 deposit before they receive any further credit from casino operators.
• The proposed changes also aim to include steps by which casino operators take steps to discourage and deter any kind of illegal betting and gaming.
Changes are made in existing laws to include new clauses as per the changing times. These changes in the Singapore Casino Control Act are steps in a similar direction. What remains to be seen is how effectively they are implemented. What also is to be seen is how these changes affect the operations and finances of the two Singapore casino operators. Singapore had dropped its ban on casinos and allowed the two giants LVS and Genting to start operations two years back in 2010.