Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) has slapped more fines on the city-state’s two integrated resort (IR) casino operators for violating the terms of the Casino Control Act. Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Genting’s Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) were fined S$130k (US $106k) and S$100k (US $81.5k) respectively for failing to more closely monitor who was coming through their turnstiles between Nov. 1, 2011 and April 30, 2012. The CRA accused the operators of not charging the S$100 entry levy on 10 local residents and for failing to prevent nine excluded gamblers and three minors from entering the casinos. The CRA fined the IRs a total S$500k in August for similar violations, while RWS was fined a further S$600k in September for partially reimbursing locals’ entry levies.
Singapore’s gov’t has approved much harsher penalties for breaching social safeguards, which are due to take effect soon, so enjoy the relative leniency while you can, boys. In a bid to enhance its own social safeguards, MBS has been training a small army of Responsible Gaming Ambassadors (RGA). The RGA program, which will launch in February, is intended to help casino staff recognize signs of problem gambling and to help direct patrons to problem gambling resources. However, the UNLV International Gaming Institute’s Dr. Bo Bernhard, who is leading the RGA training program, stresses that RGAs aren’t “interventionists” and will back off if a gambler declines their offer of help.
Gamblers may think twice about taking advice from MBS staff after learning that a former dealer has been sentenced to six months in prison and fined S$5k for sneaking into his former workplace using a disguise. According to the Straits Times, Ma Siu Hong used makeup on his face, white powder on his hair and a pair of fake glasses to ensure that his former coworkers wouldn’t recognize him as he entered MBS. Once inside, he changed into his old work uniform, which he’d neglected to turn in when he left MBS’ employ. Apparently, Ma’s plan was to convince a real dealer that his shift was up, allowing Ma to take over, then collect a bunch of chips and bugger off. District Judge Low Wee Ping said the case read like a movie. Something between Casino and Cocoon, we assume. Cocoono? (Call us, Scorsese.)
While the new year has seen analysts boost their revenue expectations for Macau in 2013, sentiments are increasingly bearish on Singapore’s next 12 months. Citibank analyst George Choi suggested Singapore had peaked at US $5.9b in 2012 and will see overall casino revenues fall to $5.4b this year. Fitch analyst Vicky Melbourne is concerned that Singapore legislators’ proposal to cap VIP junket commissions means junket operators – or international marketing agents, in local parlance – “will be more reluctant to take VIPs to Singapore because they will get better returns elsewhere.”
Never fear, junketeer! Resorts World Sentosa has upped the VIP ante with the December launch of its Ocean Suites, which feature floor-to-ceiling glass panels with a fully-stocked aquarium on the other side, all for the low rate of US$1,967 per night. RWS’ commitment to aquatic entertainment is well known, and this supposedly gives the VIP an extra tranquil environment in which to chill following a frenetic evening at the baccarat tables. That said, it may have unintended effects. Imagine you’re a Chinese VIP gambler, seated on the edge of your king-sized bed while some Singapore call-girl blows you. Your eyes are shut, lost in the moment, then you open your eyes and the first thing you see is some massive shark cruising by, looking at you with those black, lifeless eyes. Suddenly, your entire mental focus is dedicated to the potential threat associated with multiple rows of extremely sharp teeth. Seriously, Pfizer doesn’t make a strong enough Viagra dosage to raise that Titantic.