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     FrontPage Edition: Wed 15 Feb 2006

Casino Control Bill 2006


The Casino Control Bill 2006,
2nd Reading Speech by DPM and Minister for Home Affairs, Wong Kan Seng, Parliament Sitting, 13 February 2006

Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, that the Bill be now read a second time.


In April last year, the Government announced its decision to invite proposals to develop two Integrated Resorts with casinos in Singapore.
This was debated over four days in Parliament during which many Members of Parliament shared their concerns on gambling, stated their positions and made suggestions concerning casinos in Singapore.
The Integrated Resorts was also a subject of vigorous public discussion for over a year.
There were many Singaporeans who supported the proposal for the Integrated Resorts as they will enhance Singapore¡¯s tourism appeal vis-¨¤-vis other popular tourist destinations that are also reinventing themselves. The Integrated Resorts would provide a strong boost to our economy and create many new jobs for Singaporeans.
At the same time, having casinos could mean more people gambling and getting themselves ¨C and their families ¨C into trouble.
Concerns were expressed that crimes, such as loan sharking, money laundering and prostitution could increase and tarnish Singapore¡¯s reputation as a clean, safe and secure place and that casino gambling could also erode values such as thrift and hard work that have underpinned Singapore¡¯s success.
Finally, after much debate and deliberation, we decided to act in favour of what would bring more benefit to Singapore and Singaporeans, and to allow the Integrated Resorts to be built.
At the same time, we will also take measures to minimize the undesirable effects of casino gambling, and put in appropriate safeguards to deter vulnerable persons from the casino.
Sir, the Casino Control Bill that I have introduced in Parliament is an important milestone in the process of bringing the Integrated Resorts project to fruition.
The Bill seeks to put in place a legislative and regulatory framework that will help provide an environment where the Integrated Resorts can succeed and thrive, while enabling us to keep social and law and order problems under control.
Learning from other Leading Jurisdictions
Since April last year, my Ministry has been studying the regulatory practices of well-known casino jurisdictions in other parts of the world.
We studied multi-casino jurisdictions, such as Nevada and New Jersey in the US; and single-casino jurisdictions, such as New South Wales and Victoria in Australia and Macau.
I visited casinos and regulators in Las Vegas and Macau to appreciate first hand the challenges and issues of regulating an industry as complex and dynamic as casinos.
Apart from Las Vegas and Macau, my officials also visited casino regulators and operators in New Jersey in the US and New South Wales and Victoria in Australia to learn from their experience.
The issues and concerns across the various jurisdictions are not very different from ours. However, each jurisdiction has chosen a slightly different approach to tackle specific issues, depending on its historical and legislative context, as well as the resources available.
For instance, in US, the general practice is to divide the regulatory powers into a Commission, which sets the policies and collects licensing fees, and a separate Casino Control Board, to enforce the policies and conduct investigations. This reflects their preference for checks and balances. In Australia, however, the regulatory powers are centralised in a single agency for effectiveness and efficiency.
Having studied more about the best practices across these jurisdictions, we have adapted the best practices and sound policies appropriate to our unique requirements. We aim to position our Integrated Resorts with the best in the world. Our regulatory standards must necessarily be on par with theirs too.
Public Consultation
My Ministry put up the draft Casino Control Bill for public consultation from 17 October to 11 November last year. Members of the public were invited to give their comments on the Bill. Potential investors of our integrated resorts were also invited to provide feedback on the Bill. We also sent the draft to regulators in the US and Australia for comments.
Public Feedback
The exercise has generated useful feedback from Singaporeans. Most of it pertained to specific social safeguards, such as the entry levy and exclusion orders, and on not crime, corruption or other law and order concerns traditionally associated with casinos.
This suggests that there is public confidence in the Government's ability to manage the potential law and order issues associated with casinos.
It is interesting to note that while some members of the public suggested that we should remove or lower the entry levy, there were others who supported the entry levy, and even suggested raising it higher and incorporating more entry criteria!
On balance, we decided to keep the entry levy fees at $100 per 24 hours and $2,000 per year, as we felt that it should be adequate to discourage Singaporeans from picking up the gambling habit.

Source: Press Release 13 Feb 2006

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