Casino Levy to be raised after Elections?
Yesterday, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan released some startling statistics. According to media reports, more 1 million Singaporeans have visited the casino in the past 7 months.
Based on these numbers, it is obvious that the bulk of the record profits reported by the casinos are being earned from Singaporeans rather than foreigners.
As an immediate stop gap measure, the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) has issued directives to stop the casino from engaging in activities that encourage Singaporeans to visit the casinos. These include free shuttle rides to the casinos and media releases that showcase big winnings by gamblers.
In the longer run, it is obvious that these stop gap measures will have only a limited impact . There are more than 1 million visits to the casino in the past 7 months are made by Singaporeans. It appears the exiting levy ($100 per 24 hours and $2000 per year) is NOT having the desired effect of deterring Singaporeans from visiting the casino.
WILL THE LEVY BE RAISED AFTER THE ELECTIONS ARE OVER?
If there are no plans to raise the levy, Minister Balakrishnan should state this clearly.
If the number of Singaporean gamblers continues to surge and we start seeing a large number of broken families due to problem gambling, we can then hold Minister Balakrishnan accountable for having failed to manage the social problems of the casinos.
I am also interested to know some of the unpublished figures to determine the extend of the impact of Casinos on Singaporeans:
1) What is the total number of visits by foreigners to the casinos within the same period of time? This figure is important for us to assess on whether these casinos are “successful” in attracting MORE foreigners than Singaporeans. The KPI for this success is for every local Singaporean patrons, the casinos should attract 4 foreign patrons (20-80 ratio).
2) I would like to know the number of Singaporean who have signed up the $2000 yearly membership. On top of that, I also want to know the breakdown of the number of visits by Singaporeans, including those holding the $2000 membership. Eg. How many visited the Casino only once in the 7 months. How many visited twice, three times, four times…. etc. This is to determine the social impact of the Casinos on Singaporeans.
I believe MCYS has all these data and it is time to do a review on the casinos.
There are still problems of Casinos providing rolling credits (Casino operators basically turn into money lenders!) and not stating clearly the odds of each different games. But I guess we will have to do it one at a time as it seems that Minister Balakrishnan may not be able to cope with too many things simultaneously.
Goh Meng Seng
We have lost sight of the joy and excitement of public service, helping our fellow men. The joy and excitement of seeking and understanding of the joy of the miracle of the living the duty and the grandeur. We have lost taste for heroic action in the service of our people. David Marshall