Striking a balance on casino gambling

Striking a balance on casino gambling

The commentary ("Luck running out for Singapore's two casinos?"; Tuesday) painted bleak prospects for better revenues for the two casinos here, much less for the possibility of a third integrated resort.

Most Singaporeans would agree that if restrictions on casino activities are in the larger interests of Singapore, then these should remain.

The continued clampdown on casino marketing activities discourages locals from casino gambling.

Stricter rules for VIP gaming, including making players draw down their entire $100,000 deposit before they can get credit, also help to deter some local high-rollers.

At the same time, keeping Macau-style junket operators out of Singapore makes it harder for the casinos to attract foreign high-rollers.

It is good that the authorities have kept out crime syndicates linked to money laundering, drug trafficking and loan sharking.

Likewise, efforts by the National Council on Problem Gambling to reduce the impact of problem gambling on individuals, their families and society should not go unnoticed.

I have visited overseas casinos as part of my vacation tours, and understand that in some countries such as South Korea and Monaco, their citizens are barred from entering the casinos.

In this respect, Singapore is more liberal as a citizen can still access casinos here provided he pays an entry levy.

While there are detractors calling for the cessation of casino operations because of their ill effects on gamblers and their families, proponents see them as promoting tourism.

When it comes to gambling, there is no distinction between indulging in a lottery, sports betting or even visiting a casino. The individual needs to know his limits, but this is easier said than done.

In betting, the chances of striking the top prize in lotteries are much lower than those of winning a casino table game. But punters in a lottery normally indulge in a flutter just for the fun of it and there are few negative consequences.

Ultimately, a balance has to be struck between the economic benefits and social consequences of casino gambling.

Andrew Seow


This article was first published on Sept 25, 2014.
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