Gambling, while popular among Malaysians and Singaporeans, can surely bring about all sorts of issues, if left unchecked. Singapore has now taken extra measures to regulate gambling in the country, by raising the entry fees for casinos there.
Starting 4th April 2019, patrons of the two integrated resorts (IRs) which house the only legalised casinos in Singapore, will have to fork out 50% extra to gamble there, whether it’s for the daily pass or annual pass. The Straits Times reports that the daily pass will rise from S$100 (approx. RM300) to S$150 (approx. RM450), whereas the annual pass is being bumped up from S$2,000 (approx. RM6,000) to S$3,000 (approx. RM9,000). That’s really a jaw-dropping increase, especially once you convert it to Malaysian Ringgit!
There’s more to it. These entry fees, otherwise known as levies, may only be purchased six hours before the existing passes expire. For example, if you were to get a daily entry now, you can only get a second one six hours before the 24-hour validity period ends. The same time rule goes for the 12-month annual fee.
According to Yahoo! News, authorities set the new pricing in order to control the issue of problem gambling. Problem gambling is defined as an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop.
A survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed that the ‘probable problem and pathological gambling rate’ has dropped from 2.6% in 2010 (when the IRs first opened) to 0.9% in 2017. However, it is worth noting that local visitors to the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) casinos have also decreased over the last decade.
The announcement comes at a time when both casino operators have just been given the green light to expand their gaming spaces. Their exclusive rights to operate the gambling outlets were recently extended to end-2030, and both IRs have committed to spending S$9 billion (approx. RM27 billion) on building more attractions. For instance, Universal Studios Singapore, which is under RWS, will be getting a Minion Park and Super Nintendo World.
With that being said, various parties have warned that online gambling is the real problem to beat. Pastor Billy Lee, executive director of Blessed Grace Social Services, said that many Singaporeans fall victim to online gambling due to its convenience. A counsellor at The Silver Lining Community Services, Madam Lucy Wee also said that the gamblers she counsels are hooked on online gambling as opposed to going to a casino.
We’re certain this move will attract its fair share of controversy. What’s your take on this? If you’re a Malaysian living in Singapore as a PR, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below and let us know!