Casino patrons can get spending alerts to self-regulate habits

Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said Singapore has introduced several initiatives to encourage responsible gaming. In April, entry fees to Singapore casinos, including the Marina Bay Sands casino (above), were rai
Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said Singapore has introduced several initiatives to encourage responsible gaming. In April, entry fees to Singapore casinos, including the Marina Bay Sands casino (above), were raised.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said Singapore has introduced several initiatives to encourage responsible gaming. In April, entry fees to Singapore casinos, including the Marina Bay Sands casino (above), were rai
Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo (above) said Singapore has introduced several initiatives to encourage responsible gaming. In April, entry fees to Singapore casinos, including the Marina Bay Sands casino, were raised.PHOTO: CASINO REGULATORY AUTHORITY

Casino patrons here could soon receive personalised alerts on the amount of time and money they have spent at a casino.

This could be part of efforts to encourage responsible gambling and mitigate the risk of problem gambling, said Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo yesterday at the Fifth Singapore Symposium on Gambling Regulation and Crime.

Singapore's Casino Regulatory Authority is working together with casinos here on measures that could also include getting patrons to self-regulate their gambling habits by voluntarily setting caps on their expenditure and time spent at the tables, added Mrs Teo while addressing gambling regulators and law enforcement officials from around the world at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.

She said Singapore is learning from responsible gaming measures implemented in other jurisdictions, such as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The Boston-based gaming regulator has centres at various casinos where advisers provide patrons with information so that they can make better-informed decisions about gambling, its director of research and responsible gaming Mark Vander Linden told The Straits Times on the sidelines of the event.

Slot machines at the casinos are also programmed to allow players to set spending caps, and will send out on-screen alerts when they have spent a portion of their budget.

Said Mr Vander Linden: "It's about making relevant information (and reminders) available to them at the right moments, so they can also stop and think."

Singapore, too, has introduced several initiatives to encourage responsible gaming, such as the annual Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, said Mrs Teo in her speech.

In April, entry fees to Singapore casinos were raised when the Government announced the $9 billion expansion plans of the two integrated resorts here. The daily levy now is $150, up from $100, and the annual pass costs $3,000, up from $2,000.

But Mrs Teo stressed that with changes to the gambling landscape, gambling regulators need to continue learning from one another. She said: "Regulators and law enforcement agencies need to keep up to date with these developments, and make sure our policies and rules remain effective."

One challenge is the change brought about by technology that has led to an increase in online gambling. She said: "From their smartphones, punters can access gambling products anywhere, any time. Across the world, online gambling has been on the rise."

 
 
 

Singapore, too, has witnessed such a trend, with about 60 per cent of Singapore Pools' sports betting turnover now done through remote channels, up from 30 per cent just three years ago.

Another challenge is the development of new products catering to the younger generation who are less interested in traditional gambling products such as jackpot machines and horse racing. "Regulators around the world will need to figure out how to regulate these products," she said, citing how some products resemble computer games and appear to be skills-based.

Mrs Teo said regulators should also learn from how other jurisdictions address law and order concerns, especially regarding money laundering and terrorism financing.

More needs to be done, and some regulators have made good use of data analytics to tackle these areas, such as the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2019, with the headline 'Casino patrons can get spending alerts to self-regulate habits'. Print Edition | Subscribe