Stiffer casino laws include limiting visits

Stiffer casino laws were introduced in Parliament yesterday to further protect vulnerable groups from gambling ills.

The integrated resorts (IRs) will also be closely monitored to see if they are doing enough to remain attractive to tourists.

Among the key changes is one which limits how many times a person who is "financially vulnerable" can visit the casinos. Individuals or their family members can apply to set the limit.

The National Council on Problem Gambling will consider things such as the gambler's income and the frequency of his casino visits, both here and overseas, before imposing a limit.

Currently, problem gamblers, their family or a third party can get exclusion orders to stop them from visiting the casinos here.

An evaluation panel will be set up to assess the performance of the IRs to ensure that Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) constantly develop non-gaming components.

Last night, MBS' convention centre won a Singapore Experience Award from the Singapore Tourism Board. RWS will open the world's largest oceanarium by December.

The panel's findings may be considered when the IRs renew their licences next year. RWS and MBS got their casino licences in February and April 2010, respectively.

This first step in amending the law comes after a month-long consultation on proposed changes to the Casino Control Act. The amendments, which cut across various aspects of the Act, including crime and the international market agent (IMA) regime, were first proposed in July.

Other changes include:

Making it an offence to evade the $100 casino entry levy or stay beyond the 24 hours of the levy. Making it an offence to place bets after the results are known. Raising the maximum fine from $1 million now to 10 per cent of the casino's gross gaming revenue if it commits breaches. Making it a law that IMAs are not allowed to target Singaporeans and permanent residents.

RWS has already got the green light for two IMAs.

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