Singapore Official Wants Consolidation of Gaming Regulators
Josephine Teo, Singaporean Second Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs, announced new regulations to further curtail the activities of illegal gambling operators in the city-state. In announcing the new policies, Teo said she wants greater consolidation of the country’s gambling industry.
To justify consolidation, Josephine Teo cited “growing complexities” in Singapore’s gambling industry.
Casino gambling in Singapore generates $6 billion a year in revenues, making it the world’s third-biggest casino destination for a city, trailing only Macau and Las Vegas.
The city-state currently offers two casino options: Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands.
Can Singaporean’s Bet in Singapore Casinos?
Though Singapore’s exceptional gambling revenue is supplied mostly by tourists, residents of Singapore see strict laws when it comes to gambling. Singaporeans cannot gamble in either resort, unless they pay a S$100 (US$76) per visit or a S$2,000 ($1520) fee per year to gain entry. The idea is to keep out problem gamblers and lower income gamblers, to avoid social problems.
Singapore has strict controls on advertisements for gambling, along with a limitation on foreign junket operators. The system has been successful enough that China and Japan each have adopted aspects of Singapore’s casino laws in their gaming regulations.
“Smarter Than Those…We Regulate”
Still, there are areas which need improvement. In a recent speech, Teo noted there is little consistency among the country’s gambling regulators. Instead of having a unified law and governing body throughout the casinos, remote gambling, and private club-operated slot machines the three have different regulations and agencies.
The Singaporean Minister said the current patchwork of regulatory and law enforcement agencies is unworkable. She said the government needs to “be smarter than those we are seeking to regulate.”
Continuing her speech at the annual Workplan Seminar of the Casino Regulatory Authority, Josesphine Teo said, “This piecemeal approach will not be sustainable or adequate to deal with the growing complexities of the gambling landscape and products.”
What is the Singapore Model?
Another issue that the Singaporean gambling industry is facing is the increased reginal competition. The Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs mentioned that most countries have been evaluating Singapore’s integrated resorts law, a system many gambling analysts refer to as the “Singapore model“.
Japan has already patterned its IR bill to somewhat resemble Singapore’s IR model. The new layout will include fees for locals as well as taxes for casino operators. The bill is scheduled to be introduced to the Japanese Diet next week. Japan’s entry into the casino industry will increase competition in the Asia-Pacific region.
Josephine Teo said, “Many jurisdictions are keenly studying our Integrated Resort (IR) concept. Our IRs will be anxious to stay ahead of the competition.”
According to Teo, another issue the gambling industry in Singapore faces is what she calls “technological disruption”. She believes in a more “holistic and coherent” system that creates a balance between innovation and regulation. To achieve that goal, the Ministry of Home Affairs funded a study into implementing a less restrictive set of gaming laws for the country.
Resorts World Sentosa
Resorts World Sentosa is owned by the Malaysia-based conglomerate Genting Corporation, which also owns rubber plantations and oil platforms in-and-around Southeast Asia. In addition to the already existing Resorts World Queens in New York, the Genting group is currently working on adding to their United States revenue with Resorts World Las Vegas. The $4.2 billon casino is scheduled to open in 2020 making it the most expensive casino ever built in Las Vegas.
Genting Corporation’s Resorts World brand has a global reach. Resorts World Manila is not directly linked to Genting, though another operator bought a license to use the name. Genting also owns Crockfords Casino in London. Genting also built a casino on Juju Island off the coast of South Korea, but later sold the operation.
Marina Bay Sands
Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Marina Bay Sands opened in 2010 with its breathtaking three tower structure. The casino has continued to see growth over the years. Due to the anti-corruption campaign by Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, Macau’s casino industry declined from 2014 to 2016, giving Singapore casinos an opportunity.
Chinese high rollers who cannot play in Macau traveled to Singapore, which generated record revenue statistics. Singapore casinos learned they could not collect gambling debts in Chinese courts, so VIP high rollers have been turned away since in certain cases.