14 Dec 2005

Social safeguard top concern in casino bill feedback

SINGAPORE : The government's plan to build a casino in Singapore as part of an integrated resort has sparked vigorous debate and extensive dialogue among stakeholders and the public.

Its latest public consultation exercise on the draft Casino Control Bill drew 60 responses.

Most were over specific social safeguards, like the entry levy and the exclusion orders to be implemented by the National Council on Problem Gambling.

The proposed S$100 entry levy for admission into the casino drew a variety of responses.

Some felt Singaporeans should not have to pay to play, while others wanted the levy to be increased and to factor age or income into the entry levy structure.

It was also suggested that casino operators must not reimburse the levy to their patrons.

The Home Affairs Ministry, which is overseeing the establishment of the gaming legislation, explains that the entry levy imposed on Singaporeans is meant to discourage casual gambling and should not be lowered.

It also backed the single flat levy system, which is less intrusive and easier to implement.

The public was also worried that the social exclusion orders by family members to have loved ones banned from the casinos would result in family violence or strained relationships.

On this issue, the authorities say they will work with social workers to counsel affected families and Personal Protection Orders are available, if necessary.

Other suggestions concerned limits on betting amounts and the degree of transparency within the Casino Regulatory Authority.

There was, however, no feedback related to criminal activities commonly associated with casinos.

These views will be assessed and considered in the final drafting of the Casino Control Bill, which is expected to be raised in Parliament early next year. - CNA /ct


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