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Singapore regulator says casino entry levy increase has kept locals away

A 50% increase in casino entry levies imposed by the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) as part of expansion agreements signed with operators Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore in April 2019 has resulted in a substantial decline in the number of local citizens and residents visiting casino floors.

The impact of the increases, which saw the 24-hour levy rise from SG$100 to SG$150 and annual levy from SG$2,000 to SG$3,000, was announced by CRA Chairman Tan Tee How in the regulator’s 2019/2020 annual report, published last week.

Citing a need to ensure that Singaporeans “continue to be protected against the potential harms of casino gambling,” Tan said that the first 12 months under increased levies had seen visits made by Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents drop from 4.0% in FY18 to 2.7% of the local adult population in FY19.

However, there were some teething problems on the operator side with the regulator revealing it had handed out a total of SG$165,000 in fines to its two casino operators, including SG$125,000 to Marina Bay Sands for failure to implement an approved system for collection of the entry levy and for allowing 11 locals entry without paying their levy.

Singapore will establish a new gaming regulator in 2021, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), bringing together the current CRA, which oversees Singapore’s casinos, and the Gambling Regulatory Unit, which regulates remote gambling services and “fruit machines”, under one umbrella.

Tan said the CRA is “well-placed to take on the greater responsibilities as we embark on this transformational journey.

“Since CRA’s establishment in 2008, CRA has rapidly built up the requisite knowledge and sharpened our regulatory acumen and operational capabilities to establish a strong casino regulatory regime.

“The reconstituted agency will be able to draw on CRA’s rich experiences in regulating the casinos, and its extensive network of international partners, while pooling together expertise in other forms of gambling regulation from other government agencies such as the Gambling Regulatory Unit within the Ministry of Home Affairs.”

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