History of the development of gambling in Singapore
Gambling in Singapore was legalized in 1823. At that time the city was a colony of Britain, a country that allowed participation in gambling. However, the permit did not last long. After only three years, almost all types of gambling were banned. The exception was the government lottery Singapore Pools.
This situation persisted for several decades. The economic crisis that hit the country in the early 2000s forced the government to reconsider its views on the issue.
A new bill on gambling was considered in early 2005.
The process of considering and adopting the bill was accompanied by fierce debate and controversy. Representatives of various religious cultures and social workers opposed the legalization of gambling in Singapore. They pointed to the potential for negative social impacts of gambling, particularly the potential for increased crime.
The government pointed to the prospect of growth in the tourism industry and the resulting potential for increased financial revenues. In 2006 a final decision was made to partially legalize gambling.
The legislative framework was developed specifically for the creation of two large resort hotels-casinos. The provisions of the laws enshrined the licensing system, organized agencies tasked with monitoring and regulating the activities of gambling establishments, defined restrictions and bans.
The largest casinos in Singapore
Construction, development and organization of the first casinos in Singapore took five years. In 2010, opened immediately two prestigious institutions:
Resorts World Sentosa Casino-the largest gambling and entertainment complex in the country was built on Sentosa Island. The area of the complex occupies more than 15 thousand square meters. The casino has more than 1,000 tables and more than 2,500 slot machines. The guests are offered the possibility of settling in comfortable hotel rooms, visiting the water parks, amusement park, Museum
Marina Bay Sands, built on the coast of Marina Bay, opened a few months later. Hotel-casino belongs to the company Las Vegas Sands. Famous architect Moshe Safdie worked on the design of the institution. The complex consists of three high-rise towers. At the height of about 200 meters there is a huge landscape pool, a park, an observation deck, and a museum. Over 600 tables and more than 1,500 slot machines are installed directly in the casino. For high rollers there are several VIP-lounges. In addition, the complex offers guests a hotel, restaurants, cinemas, bowling and other entertainment venues.
Both casinos in Singapore are world-famous and among the top most expensive and prestigious casinos in the world.
Currently, they occupy the top places in the ranking of the most expensive casinos in the world. Each year, several million guests come here - the fans of gambling. According to statistics, the opening of institutions allowed an increase in tourist traffic by almost 30%. And, accordingly, a noticeable increase in the level of state profitability.
The current legislation on gambling in Singapore
Despite the successful development of the industry, gambling in Singapore is regulated as strictly as possible and with all possible restrictions. By opening access to gambling in the country for foreign tourists, the government tried to protect its own citizens from gambling.
Today, gambling in Singapore is regulated by four laws:
- On gambling;
- On private lotteries;
- Sports betting;
- On sweepstakes and betting.
In general, the provisions of these acts rather prohibit the organization of gambling business and participation in gambling. But with a caveat. Gambling may be allowed by other by-laws.
There is an interesting provision in the legislation of Singapore. In order to obtain a license to engage in gambling activities, it is necessary to draw up a so-called "exemption from the law".
Casino licensing conditions in Singapore
The licensing conditions themselves are quite intricately spelled out. One of the clearest requirements established by the Casino Control Act is a precise indication of the limit on the number of licenses issued - up to two. And both have already been obtained by the aforementioned Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World at Sentosa. In other words, in the near future, it seems that we should not expect new casinos in Singapore.
On the other hand, the Private Lotteries Act declares that permits are considered on a case-by-case basis. The CRA, one of the gambling regulators in Singapore, can grant licenses if applicants and their associates are deemed eligible.
A great deal of attention is paid to the selection of a potential operator. Regulators evaluate applicants on a number of criteria:
Whether the applicant and its associates have a decent reputation;
Whether the operator and its associates have sufficient financial resources;
How "transparent" are the sources of funds;
How successful the applicant in the business area, whether he is able to maintain the viability of the casino;
with whom the potential organizer of a gambling business cooperates;
how worthy is the reputation of the applicant's partners.
Any questions regarding the applicant's financial, professional and personal situation can be considered. The whole process is accompanied by the provision of a package of documents, confirming the authenticity of the information provided.
The CRA committee considers the above-mentioned issues in a collegial manner. The panel consists of three or more agency representatives appointed by the minister.
There is also no clearly established procedure for applying for an exemption from the Act. The corresponding application must be sent to the official responsible for issuing the permits. In what format the documents must be drawn up. As well as the duration of the license - from 3 to 10 years - is determined by the responsible officer of the agency.
Restrictions on visiting casinos
Legislation maximum clearly prescribed prohibitions and restrictions relating to gambling entertainment:
visiting a casino is prohibited to citizens under the age of 21;
Foreigners can go to the casino for free. Citizens of Singapore must pay an entrance fee - USD 100 per day for each visit or USD 2000 per year for membership in a particular casino;
Visiting gambling houses is not available to those with low incomes or poor credit history;
Restrictions on casino play may be imposed on application by members of the player's family. It is allowed to determine a specific limit of visits per month;
Players themselves can write an application for a ban on their participation in gambling. It is impossible to withdraw the application before the deadline specified in the document.
In addition, gambling establishments are prohibited from any promotional activities aimed at attracting customers. Casino security service is obliged to carefully monitor the compliance of visitors with the applicable requirements. Operators must file official reports on any suspected violation of the law. Non-compliance is subject to very substantial fines.
Singapore's Gaming Regulators
Several agencies are responsible for enforcing the provisions of the gambling laws:
- The CRA is the regulatory body under the Casino Control Act. The authority has the power to issue licenses and regulate any operations in land-based establishments;
- The Singapore Sweepstakes Board, an organization that oversees the activities of the major betting operators: Singapore Pools and
- Singapore Turf Club;
- Ministry of Social and Family Development, National Gambling
- Council. The agencies are involved in activities to minimize potential problems caused by gambling;
- MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs), MAS (Finance Authority of Singapore), MDA (Media Development Authority) - services deal with remote gambling, blocking sites and payments.
According to the government, the division of responsibilities between several agencies allows for maximum efficiency in the regulation of gambling industry.
Online gambling in Singapore
The situation with online gambling in the country is much more complicated. Officially, all types of gambling done remotely are banned.
The first attempts to legalize online gambling were made by operators in 2013. However, the government resolutely refused to pass the relevant bill. Authorities have tried to take the most effective measures to shut down access to online gambling, including betting from mobile devices. Among other things, regulators are blocking gambling sites and prohibiting payments.
According to the country's leaders, online gambling can serve as a good way to launder money derived from illegal activities. In addition, closing access to online casinos prevents the emergence of gambling addiction.
In 2015 another attempt was made to legalize online gambling. But with the same result. The Singapore government insisted on banning gambling. However, in 2016 two companies still managed to obtain licenses to operate online. The licensees were well-known local operators: Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club. The permit was obtained on the basis of the mentioned "exemption from the law" scheme.
However, both operators specialize exclusively in the organization of lotteries and betting. The possibility of playing table games and online slots on the websites of the companies at the moment is not considered.
In addition, the companies are obliged to comply with numerous above-mentioned requirements:
- accept players at least 21 years of age;
- Thoroughly verify the information provided, it is mandatory to verify accounts;
- Refuse to play on credit;
- set daily spending limits;
- to refuse any promotions;
- report any suspicious transactions and behavioral changes to account holders;
- comply with a number of other requirements.
The licenses have been obtained by the operators for 3 years. The possibility of extending the documents will be considered based on the results.
Online casinos in Singapore
However, de facto citizens of Singapore have access to online casinos. As explained by representatives of the government, to track all foreign platforms and block access to the site is quite problematic.
Analytical studies conducted among online casino users in Singapore show the following results:
At least a third of users gamble online at least once a year;
58% of visitors to gambling portals are men;
64% are middle-aged users aged 25-44.
Today visitors from Singapore are accepted by most of the well-known European online gambling platforms. Moreover, international operators advise their Asian counterparts to legalize online gambling by advising the government.
It is difficult to say how promising the development of gambling business in Singapore. On the one hand, casinos bring a very tangible income to the state budget - an argument in favor of the development of the gambling industry.
However, in recent years, the inflow of funds from casino profits has fallen by 12%. According to the forecasts of several analytical companies, the government of Singapore will refuse to renew the existing licenses. The reasons for this decision may be the high risk of various social problems and the uncertainty of the future of the tourism market.
License validity of existing casinos in Singapore will expire in 2017. And the further development of gambling business largely depends on the final decision of the authorities on the issuance of new permits.