SINGAPORE: Singapore’s laws governing the two casinos, the Casino Control Act, may soon have a "visit limit" to protect financially vulnerable local patrons who visit the casinos frequently.
The aim is to have them curb their gambling behaviour before they become financially distressed.
This is one of several amendments the government is proposing to the Casino Control Act in respect of five areas — Crime, Gaming, Social, Economic and Tax, and which are up for public views and feedback for one month from 6 July 2012.
The government, however, adds that it does not intend to make changes to the entry level for now.
In a comprehensive public consultation paper, the government explained that as an extension of the existing casino exclusion measures, it is proposing that the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) be empowered to issue visit limits for local, financially vulnerable patrons who frequent the casinos.
Families and individuals will also be empowered to apply for a visit limit in addition to the current family and voluntary self—exclusion.
Turning to the overall aim of the amendments, the public consultation paper explains that they aim to better align the legislative framework with the original policy intention of introducing the Integrated Resorts in Singapore.
The government has explained that the concept of an IR with its variety of leisure offerings is meant to provide visitors with a quality and distinctive destination experience.
Within the larger IR developments, the casinos are a small but essential component and these help to make the entire developments financially sustainable.
The amendments also strive to enhance the law enforcement levers, streamline regulatory requirements and operational processes so that they keep pace with international best practices and industry developments, strengthen social safeguards and improve the tax administration.
It adds that the IRs have brought about economic benefits and the negative impact of the casinos on the law and order, and social aspects are under control.
Nonetheless, with the benefit of two years of practical experience, a review of the regulatory regime and the Casino Control Act (CCA) is timely.
Giving more details of the proposed changes, the government explained that in the area of crime, it wants to enhance the law enforcement levers to address crime associated with the casinos.
Among the proposed amendments include appropriate steps taken by the casino operators to ensure that those within the casino premises do not conduct illegal betting or gaming.
Also being considered as casino crimes — past posting, which is the act of making a bet after the results of the game are known, and cheating at table games carrying chips worth $10,000 or more outside the boundaries of the designated site.
The possession of counterfeit chips and the materials to make counterfeit chips, and the unlawful interference with gaming equipment within the casino premises and in any part of Singapore, will also be deemed a crime.
To continue to protect vulnerable groups from the potential harm of casino gambling, social safeguards will be strengthened.
Besides the proposed "visit limit", the government will also enhance the powers of the National Council on Problem Gambling to issue casino exclusion orders with regard to Family Exclusion Orders.
This is where the family member with the gambling problem cannot be located or is uncooperative, or where there is a need to act urgently to protect the family from further severe harm.
And when an application to revoke a family exclusion or self exclusion order is made, the NCPG would be given powers to require excluded persons to undergo a clinical assessment to determine the application.
It will also be an offence for daily entry levy holders to stay in the casino beyond 24 hours without paying the additional entry levy and for attempting to evade the entry levy.
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)’s 2011 gambling prevalence survey found that probable pathological and problem gambling (PPG) rates among Singapore Residents have remained stable between 1 percent and 2 percent.
However, the proportion of low—income gamblers who bet large amounts has increased.
Probable pathological gamblers are found to have higher gambling frequency and poorer self—control in gambling.
Poorer self—control in gambling was detected among those who participated in horse racing, online and casino gambling.
Casino operators will also be required to provide the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports with more details on their Responsible Gambling policies and practices covering topics like patron education and employee training on problem gambling and responsible gambling.
The public can send their comments and feedback on the proposed amendments to the Casino Control Act by August 6.
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