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Three Lessons to Learn From Singapore’s Casino Oversight

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Singapore remains Asia’s gold standard for integrated resort development. As Japan fine tunes its approach to IR regulation and Macau contemplates re-tendering casino concessions, Singapore illustrates what to do – and what to do differently.

Lesson 1: Know what you want–and be right.

Singapore had clear objectives for its initial IR experiment. It wanted and got a world class theme park, Universal Studios at Genting’s Resorts World Sentosa, and a global scale convention center at Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands.

Now, as the price of increased hotel and casino capacity, Marina Bay Sands will construct a 15,000 seat arena, an alternative to aging Singapore Indoor Stadium, and RW Sentosa will expand Universal Studios and make its aquarium the world’s largest. RW Sentosa will also revamp its waterfront into a “dining and lifestyle district” complimenting similar moves on the south end of Singapore island.

Lesson 2: Demand great

In exchange for casino gambling, Singapore got a top shelf theme park and an architectural marvel with the world’s most envied swimming pool. IRs also introduced celebrity chefs that sparked a restaurant renaissance, adding a new dimension to Singapore’s portfolio as a foodie destination. Marina Bay Sands museum curators mount best in class exhibitions.

Lesson 3: Take gambling disorders seriously

In tandem with casino legalization, Singapore created its National Council on Problem Gambling and established stringent regulation. Singapore initially set an entry fee for residents of S$100 daily or S$2,000 annually that was hiked recently to S$150 per day and S$3,000 annually, as part of an agreement for IR expansion that also increases the gaming tax rate by three percentage points.

The city-state bans all forms of casino advertising and promotion in the domestic market and mandates training for gaming floor employees to identify problem gamblers. The NCPG estimates problem and pathological gambling rates of Singapore residents fell from 2.6% when the IRs opened in 2010 to 0.9% in 2017.

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