SINGAPORE: Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents (PRs) will have to pay 50 per cent more to enter the casinos at the two local integrated resorts (IRs) from Thursday (Apr 4), as the Government continues efforts to keep problem gambling under control.
This was announced by the ministries of trade and industry, finance, home affairs and social and family development on Wednesday.
From Thursday, the daily levy for Singaporeans and PRs will increase to S$150 from S$100 previously, while the annual levy will rise to S$3,000 from S$2,000.
The move comes amid plans by the gaming industry to expand their operations, with the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa committing around S$9 billion in non-gaming investments.
The entry levy is a social safeguard to deter casual and impulse gambling by locals, said the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
In reviewing the entry fees, several factors were taken into consideration, including the problem gambling situation, household income levels and prices of alternative gambling locations in the region.
Meanwhile, the authorities are also tightening the pre-payment and activation periods for the entry levy.
From August, patrons will only be able to purchase a second daily or annual casino entry levy if the first one is expiring within six hours. The levy will be automatically activated after six hours of purchase.
PROBLEM GAMBLING "UNDER CONTROL"
Local visitorship to the casinos has “declined significantly” over the last decade and problem gambling remains “under control”, the ministries said.
The probable problem and pathological gambling rate has decreased to 0.9 per cent in 2017 from 2.6 per cent when the IRs first opened, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
The number of active casino exclusions as of Dec 31, 2018 was about 67,500. Of this, about 57.9 per cent were under automatic exclusion, including undischarged bankrupts and those receiving financial or legal aid from the Government.
About 38.2 per cent were under family exclusion, while the remaining excluded themselves from gambling at the casinos.
On top of this, about 7,000 Singaporeans and Singapore PRs had their monthly casino visits capped as of end last year, with 71.9 per cent of the limits imposed by the NCPG on financially vulnerable Singaporeans.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said the Government has been closely monitoring the potential social impact of gambling.
“Although problem gambling has not worsened since the introduction of the IRs, we are nevertheless wary of the dangers posed by gambling, in particular online gambling, which has become an increasingly serious threat,” said Mr Chan.
“In order to further limit the social impact of problem gambling on our local population, MBS and RWS have agreed to work with MSF to study how to help casino patrons make more informed decisions on their level of play," he added.
An example of how technology is being used to help gamblers make informed decisions in overseas casinos is the ability to set a gambling budget and be reminded when a certain proportion of their budget is surpassed. Other features include setting loss limits, time limits and tracking one’s own gambling habits.
“MSF will also work with VWOs to train their gaming area employees on responsible gambling, so that casinos can better identify at-risk patrons and refer them to appropriate help before problem gambling sets in.”
Taxes on gaming revenues will also be increased after the current moratorium expires in February 2022.
Gross gaming revenue is currently subjected to casino tax rates of 5 per cent for premium gaming and 15 per cent for mass gaming.
The IRs will be subjected to two tiers of tax rates of 8 per cent and 12 per cent for premium gaming, and 18 per cent and 22 per cent for mass gaming – depending on the amount of gross gaming revenue logged. This will be effective from March 2022, with a new 10-year moratorium.
If the IR fails to meet its investment commitments, however, flat tax rates of 22 per cent will apply on its mass gaming revenue, and 12 per cent on its premium gaming revenue.