BUSINESS

Singapore’s casinos face scary fines under new Casino Control Act amendments

TAGs: integrated resort casino, Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa

singapore-casino-control-act-amendmentsAfter first proposing changes then allowing for public input, Singapore authorities have revealed the scope of the amendments to the city-state’s Casino Control Act. The amendments are contained in a 109-page bill, which was submitted to Singapore’s parliament on Monday. As threatened, Singapore’s two integrated resort operators – Las Vegas Sands and Genting – will be liable for maximum fines of 10% of the the previous financial year’s gross gaming revenue for “serious breaches” of the regulations. The former maximum fine of S$1m (US $820k) will now apply to all other breaches. Both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa have been fined by Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) in recent months for failing to impose the S$100 casino entry fee on locals.

The bill did not spare Singapore’s junket operators, or ‘international market agents’ (IMAs), as they’re known locally. Singapore nationals and permanent residents now officially wouldn’t be able to make use of IMA services, and any IMAs caught recruiting local gamblers would face jail terms of up to four years and a top fine of S$300k. Get caught more than once and the sentence rises to seven years per incident. The CRA would be able to immediately suspend casino employees, contractors or IMAs without compensation while it considers whether to fire an individual or cancel a contract. (Previously, the CRA had to issue a 14-day warning of a suspension.) The CRA would also be granted greater authority to ensure advertising and responsible gambling rules were being followed to the letter.

To address the issue of problem gambling among Singapore residents, “financially vulnerable” individuals and their relatives can apply for visit limits – a mid-range option to complement total self-exclusion or family-requested exclusion. The acceptable number of visits would be determined by the individual or their relatives, but could also be imposed by the National Council on Problem Gambling. Attempting to evade the daily entry fee or staying in the casino longer than the 24 hours allowed by the levy would become a crime. Studies have shown that the rate of “extreme” problem gamblers in Singapore has increased slightly but remained low. Nonetheless, the government intends to keep a sharp eye on the situation.

The CRA would also be granted greater authority to ensure advertising and responsible gambling rules were being followed to the letter. An evaluation panel will judge whether the IRs are doing enough to develop non-gaming attractions and the findings of this panel may play into whether the IR’s license is renewed. Both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa will be up for license renewal in 2016.

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