Casino Entry Fees in Singapore Generate Over a Billion Singapore Dollars in Revenue
May 8th, 2019 2.00pm
More than a billion SGD has been generated from entry fees alone in the past 8 years across land-based casinos in Singapore, and the toll has recently been raised from S$100 to S$150 a day. The measure, originally devised as a method of gambling addiction prevention, did not deter some of the visitors, who displayed an exceptional amount of resistance to the conventional means of keeping gambling under control. For some, the fee is no more than a price to pay for enjoying the casino commodities, however, the number of local visitors has been cut in half since the charge was formally applied.
A Means of Fighting the Gambling Problem or Insatiable Greed?
Despite the popular opinion that the operators have introduced the fees for no other reason than to charge the privilege of breathing the air on the premises, the cause for imposing the admission entry is much more benevolent. The idea was to curb the problem by creating an air of privilege around brick and mortar casinos, or, more accurately, repulse the gambling-problem affected visitors by raising the cost of the pleasure.
Clearly, the measure targets only those with a lower income while the more fortunate ones will still be able to enjoy recreational gambling. This, however, is hardly an oversight; the high rolling players who can afford the S$3,000 annual admission fee are a part of the population that generates a higher income, and their finances will hardly be affected by the extra charge.
According to Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Home Affairs, the solution proved to be extremely effective.
“The data is quite clear – annual entry levy holders tend to have higher incomes… For these affluent individuals who want to visit the casinos more often, such as premium players, the annual entry levy provides convenience”.
Teo also emphasized that this is not the only means of dealing with gambling addiction. Singapore is among the countries with the strictest gambling-related safeguards, which include targeting those with a problem and preventing them from entering casino property.
Has the Government Shot Itself in the Foot?
Not all are convinced in the good intentions of the government and there are those who firmly believe that the fee increase is no more than an excuse to squeeze the casino visitors dry. Those with a problem are known to go to amazing lengths to quench their desires and the extra charge is no more than a minor impediment, which one can overcome fairly easily.
In other words, the 50% drop in casino visits is in no way an indication that the number of compulsive gamblers is reduced. It simply suggests that they have found an alternative solution to their problem – possibly that of an illegal nature.
There is also an issue of losing valuable tax revenue, which will be inevitably affected by the decrease in land-based casino traffic volume.
What Does the Levy Entail?
As mentioned, the daily rate is set at S$150 (around £85 or €98) and once paid, the entry will remain valid for the next 24 hours. The players will have 30 days to redeem the purchase and any extra hours (not spent inside the casino) will not roll over to the next day.
The annual levy will expire after 90 days from the date of the purchase, if not used. Any breach of terms, such as over-stay, may result in a fine.
All the while, the foreigners are unaffected by the enforced safety guidelines, as the fees do not apply to tourists.
Casual, small-time players are the ones suffering the consequences of the government’s endeavor to eradicate the undesired behavior. One of the regular casino patrons, Madam Judy Yap (74), stated that she will not be renewing her annual pass now that the fees have gone up.
“This fee increase will affect casual players the most, especially we seniors who bet in small amounts,” said Yap.
Others, like Mrs. Takushi, remain unphased. “I paid S$150 already, so what? Might as well…”
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