There’s no denying that Singapore has benefited from the presence of the two casino complexes that opened in the country back in 2010. But even with the economic growth and success it has had in the past couple of years, Singapore, which has enjoyed a reputation as a global city and a playground for the affluent, is still guarded as ever, especially when it comes to the issue of gambling.
Last year, the country took the step of making amendments to the Casino Control Act, a move done in large part to enforce tighter rules and fines for the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Genting Singapore should they not comply with the amended rules and regulations. The amendments have since cleared parliament and are now awaiting formal passage into law, something both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa will have no choice but to comply with.
Among the most serious amendments contained in the 109-page bill include maximum fines of 10% of the the previous financial year’s gross gaming revenue for “serious breaches” of the regulations. When the amendments are enacted, the previous fine for such transgressions – SG$1 million – would be a pittance compared to the SG$ 200 million plus two operators stand to lose.
Talking to the China Post, Yap Wai Ming, a partner at Stamford Law Corp., understands the reasons the country is taking with the implementation of the amended act, swing that “It is timely that the legislation be reviewed and further tweaks be made to ensure that the objectives of setting up the integrated resorts are achieved.”
Despite the more stringent laws and more sever penalties, Genting BHD chairman Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Genting BHD, said that he still expects a strong turnout from tourists who flock Resorts World Sentosa and contribute to the resorts’ continues growth, in large part to improving revenues from its non-gambling business.
In addition to the fines that are set to be imposed, the country’s trade ministry will also create a panel that will work hand-in-hand with the Casino Regulatory Authority to assess the inroads the two resorts have made and how popular their tourist destinations have become. This will eventually play an important role in determining whether the two operators will have their casino licenses renewed from January 2015.
It might seem odd for non-gambling related businesses to be tied up to the casino licenses, but it’s worth pointing out, or at least rehashing the point that one of the country’s conditions for both Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Genting Singapore before they were able to build the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, was that their respective licenses were tied into their ability to develop non-gambling attractions within their premises. The two operators obliged and have since built a slew of entertainment facilities, hotels, shops, dining establishments, and even theme parks to accommodate that condition.
But for all of Singapore’s actions in establishing more stringent laws for its two casino operators, there’s little doubt in a lot of people’s minds that these establishments have helped in raising Singapore’s global profile, something that validated those who believed that casinos, with the right governance, would provide a significant boost to the country’s standing in the world stage.