14 Oct 2005

Singapore releases casino law for public consultation

I got this article from a China newspaper, weirdly enough. None of the local papers have this article... yet.

The Singapore government said Friday it is seeking public feedback on a draft of a casino law that will regulate the city state's two proposed gambling resorts.
The Casino Control Bill aims to ensure casinos remain free from criminal influence or exploitation, that gaming is conducted in accordance with the law, and that the potential of casinos to harm young or vulnerable people or society is minimized, the government said in a statement.

The bill will also provide for the creation of the Casino Regulatory Authority National which, along with the Council for Problem Gambling, will act as a watchdog for the industry.

Singapore reversed a decades-old ban on casino gaming in April this year to allow the building of two casino resorts to help boost tourism by 2009.

But the project has triggered sharp debate, with supporters saying it will boost the economy, and opponents warning it will lead to gambling addiction and other social ills.

The proposal sparked a rare protest with thousands of citizens launching an online petition warning that the casinos would lead to a spike in gambling addiction _ unusual in that Singaporeans so rarely challenge their government's plans.

The tender to develop and operate the casinos has been twice delayed and the request for proposals to build the first casino is now expected at the end of November.

The government said the bill will be released Monday on its public feedback Web site and submissions can be made until Nov. 11.

UPDATE: CNA just brought this article in.

A Casino Control Bill has been drafted to regulate the casino gaming industry in Singapore.

The government will release details of the Bill for public consultation on Monday.

Industry watchers say the Bill will spell out the do's and don'ts of casino gambling but it will only be half the story.

Sociologists and lawyers are not betting on the Bill as a fix-all.

Still, they say it's much needed to help operators and customers play the right cards by outlining a set of rules to keep crime at bay.

It'll also provide for the setting up of the Casino Regulatory Authority and National Council for Problem Gambling.

But just what else might the Bill contain?

S Suressh, partner at Harry Elias Partnership, said: "Definitely the regulatory authority will have the right to enter the premises and inspect the operations.

"There'll probably be rights for them to inspect the records of the casino and the integrated resort.

"I am sure the bidders will be interested in looking at the licensing regime, what kind of licensing requirements are envisaged and what kind of suitability criteria will be used."

Lawyers say the Casino Control Bill by itself will not solve any problem as it only provides a framework for the authorities to address issues and mitigate the negative impact of gaming.

The key still lies in effective policing and how these rules are enforced.

Other provisions expected are a voluntary opt-out scheme for individuals to be barred from the casino, entry levies for Singaporeans and credit limits.

Associate Professor Paulin Straughan, a sociologist at the NUS, said: "I expect the laws will have a bill which requires the casino operators to train their employees to recognise someone who is at risk.

"But I think that is a tall order because it takes a very skilled, well-trained counsellor to pick up the tell-tale signs with confidence and say this person is in a vulnerable stage."

Industry watchers say the Bill is a prelude to the Gaming Act in Singapore and more needs to be done to make it work.

From Monday, the public can view the Bill at the Feedback Unit's website at www.feedback.gov.sg.

Separately, the National Council on Problem Gambling has launched a new website at www.ncpg.org.sg to kick off its public education programme.


akikonomu said...

I'm not sure how the public will react to this. It's like a slap in the face after the "public consultation" for the first phase of the casino thing...

pleinelune said...

personally, i wouldn't bother to give any feedback, because i know anything i say will go in one ear and go out the other. i've a sneaking suspicion this is just a dummy exercise to give the appearance that they are indeed consulting people.

akikonomu said...

They should rename this to "Public Endorsement Exercise" then.