Expansion of integrated resorts: Casinos' social impact under continued scrutiny, says Chan Chun Sing

From today, the daily and annual levies for Singapore permanent residents and citizens to enter the casinos in Resorts World Sentosa (above) and Marina Bay Sands will be raised.
From today, the daily and annual levies for Singapore permanent residents and citizens to enter the casinos in Resorts World Sentosa (above) and Marina Bay Sands will be raised.ST FILE PHOTO

IRs have delivered so far on job and economic fronts: Minister

Singapore has taken steps to refresh what the two integrated resorts here offer, but it will also keep an eye on the impact that their casinos have on society, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

"While the integrated resorts have been successful on the economic front, we have been closely monitoring the potential social impact of the gaming segment," he said.

Mr Chan's comments come as the Government announced yesterday it was extending the exclusivity period for the casinos at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to operate until the end of 2030.

The two integrated resorts will pump in $9 billion to expand their non-gaming offerings in exchange for the extension. Three more hotels, two new zones in theme park Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa and a 15,000-seat indoor arena are among RWS and MBS' expansion plans, said a joint release by the ministries of Trade and Industry, Finance, Home Affairs and Social and Family Development.

Mr Chan said the two integrated resorts had thus far "successfully delivered on the job, tourism and economic fronts" since Singapore lifted its longstanding ban on casinos in 2005.

"Together, (the two integrated resorts) directly employ more than 20,000 workers, of whom more than 65 per cent are Singaporeans, and contribute 1 to 2 per cent of Singapore's annual GDP," Mr Chan said.

"Their mix of attractions and amenities has benefited tourists and locals alike," he added.

 
 
 
 
 

Mr Chan said the Government had been in "intense negotiations" with RWS and MBS to refresh their non-gaming offerings such as hotels, theme parks and shops since the exclusivity period for the two casino licences ran out in 2017.

Attention has also been paid to limit the "potential downsides of the gaming components", Mr Chan added. "Although problem gambling has not worsened... we are nevertheless wary of the dangers posed by gambling," he noted.

From today, the levies for Singapore permanent residents and citizens to enter the casinos will also be raised.

Mr Chan said the new offerings "will not only bring about opportunities for our businesses and workers but also provide Singaporeans with more interesting options to live and play".

"We will continue to remain alert to the potential ill effects of problem gambling and monitor the situation closely to ensure that vulnerable Singaporeans are protected and looked after."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2019, with the headline 'Casinos' social impact under continued scrutiny: Chan'. Print Edition | Subscribe