Most local residents give casinos a miss

Most local residents give casinos a miss
The casino at Resorts World Sentosa.

SINGAPORE - Three years after the two casinos opened, 7.7 per cent of adult local residents have made more than one visit to either.

The "vast majority" of the remaining 92.3 per cent - both Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) - did not go at all, said the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) in its latest annual report. It did not give absolute numbers.

Making these figures public for the first time, it said the number of visits by Singaporeans and PRs had also fallen since the casinos opened. They made a daily average of 17,000 visits last year, down from 20,000 in 2010.

This is likely due to the novelty of the casinos wearing off, CRA chairman Richard Magnus said in his foreword. Stringent safeguards - particularly the $100 entry levy - were cited as another factor.

A total of $174 million from both daily and annual entry levies was collected last year, a dip from $216 million in 2010. Gaming analysts pointed to the strong social safeguards in place that keep local residents away.

"No other major gaming market has such a punitive entry levy - most have no levy - so it is not surprising that local visitation would decline," said analyst Grant Govertsen of Las Vegas-based Union Gaming Group.

The analysts estimated that the percentage of local patronage is comparable to that of other gaming jurisdictions. For example, about 7 per cent of the adult population in Britain visited a casino in the past 12 months, said Global Betting and Gaming Consultants chief executive Warwick Bartlett.

No data was available from the markets in Macau or Las Vegas.

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