Singapore whale ordered to repay Sands casino; online sports bookie sentenced

TAGs: Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, Vietnam

singapore-casinoA Singapore court has ordered Japanese businessman Shinichi Takami to make good on his $2m casino marker held by Marina Bay Sands (MBS). The Las Vegas Sands subsidiary originally took Takami and a host of other reluctant whales to court in December over sizable casino debts. In this case, MBS claimed Takami had offered no satisfactory reason why he couldn’t/shouldn’t pay his tab, so MBS sought a summary judgment. Takami insisted on a full trial. The High Court said Takami could have his trial, but only if he put up $2m in advance in case the verdict went against him. The Straits Times reported that Takami failed to meet the 4pm Friday deadline for depositing the oversized check, leaving the court no choice but to pronounce summary judgment. That’s one down for MBS, 40-odd more (mostly Malaysian) whales to go.

Still in Singapore, an illegal football bookie spared the state a trial by pleading guilty to 11 counts of online sports betting naughtiness. District Court Judge Wong Peck sentenced vegetable seller Goh Weng Soon to a year in prison and fined him $390k, although Goh’s inability to pay the fine will add another 19.5 months to his stint behind bars. Goh claimed he was a part-time bookie for two years after being recruited by a Malaysian operator.

Goh’s customers placed their bets online, then they’d settle up in person every Monday and Goh would drive to Johor Baru in Malaysia to drop off the balance (minus his commission). In the five weeks preceding his arrest last spring, Goh handled $288k worth of wagers, on which his commission would have been $80k. Goh was carrying the especially good final week’s worth of wagers ($146k) when he was arrested. Police found another $10k at Goh’s flat, but he claimed that was the entirely legal proceeds from produce sales at his market stall.

In a recent Reuters article, Caesars Entertainment’s president of international development Steven Tight said Singapore had “provided a very good template for emerging jurisdictions to liberalize gaming entertainment.” Just last month, Vietnam’s finance minister traveled to Singapore to study the city-state’s approach to sports betting. But Vietnam is unimpressed by Singapore’s approach when it comes to local residents’ access to the casinos. Singapore residents are required to pay a stiff entry fee, but they’re at least allowed that option. Vietnam is looking to develop a few resort casino projects of its own, but politicians are adamant that locals won’t be allowed inside.

That’s bad news for the estimated 3,600 Vietnamese gamblers who cross the Cambodian border every day looking for more hospitable facilities. Despite the reported dangers of such visits, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security reported that the number rises to 5,000 on weekends. Tuoi Tre News quoted the Criminal Police Department as saying the Cambodian casinos employ traveling marketers to drum up business in both rural and urban areas of Vietnam. These marketers even arrange transportation to the casinos (junkets on wheels). Nationwide police stats show a 10% increase in the number of gambling prosecutions in 2011. Expect that number to keep growing unless Vietnam starts treating its locals with the same respect it plans to show tourists.


views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of