In 2010, with a certain amount of trepidation, Singapore opened two casino resorts. There were concerns over rampant crime appearing in the casinos, most of which was predicted to be led by organized crime, but the truth is apparently more mundane than the hype. According to Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Second Minister for Home Affairs, there have only been a “very few” casino-related crimes that could be tied to organized crime in the past nine years.
Teo was addressing Parliament on Monday when she made her comments, adding that Singapore has gaming-related crime “under control.” She stated, “Since 2010—ever since we started the tracking, when the [casinos’] operations commenced—there have been fewer than 20 in total [criminal matters] that are traced to syndicates. If you look at the amounts of money involved, it was between SGD14,000 [US$10,272] to SGD1.3 million [$954.460].”
Despite a low amount of organized crime, neither the ministry nor the casinos are letting down their guard, asserted Tao. She told parliamentary members, “In this instance, the [casino] operators obviously have an interest—they have fiduciary interest, and so they are minded to work with the police to stamp out the possible infiltration of organised crime.”
Las Vegas Sands, through its Marina Bay Sands resort, and Genting Singapore with Resorts World Sentosa are the only two gambling venues allowed in Singapore under the current regulatory framework. The two will continue their control for a little while longer, as they have agreed to a combined $6.6-million fee that will keep their duopoly intact until 2030.
Tao further indicated that there has been a steady decline in casino crimes since 2010. Since then, there has been a drop of 58% in the number of crimes, falling from 299 to 126. She emphasized that casino thefts and cheating at tables were the most common forms of crime, adding, “The vast majority of crimes committed in the casinos are mostly opportunistic and petty in nature.”
Parliamentary members also inquired about social safeguards meant to protect locals, such as entry fees. She said that around $954 million in entry fees had been paid by locals, which includes citizens and permanent residents, since 2010. However, she added that casino patronage by the locals has dropped 50% since then, as well. Previously, the entry fee for locals was around $100, but this increased to $150 as of April 4.