Singapore’s casinos have attracted more than three million visitors, created thousands of jobs and spurred spending at hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. They’re also keeping the courts busy.
Since the opening of Resorts World Sentosa in February and Marina Bay Sands in April, the island-state has seen cases of fraud, embezzlement and identity theft. Some offenders were fined or sent to prison, three European suspects have jumped bail and two Africans have been charged for cheating the casinos out of about S$140,000 ($102,000).
Singapore citizens and permanent residents must pay a S$100 daily levy to enter the casinos, or S$2,000 for an annual pass, in a government effort to deter those who can’t afford to gamble. The casinos had collected about S$70 million in entrance fees as of May 10, Vivian Balakrishnan, the minister for community development, youth and sports, said last month.
Unemployed Malvin Lim, 39, says he’s been gambling more than 20 times since they opened, betting as much as S$3,000 each time. He’s lost about S$8,000 at baccarat.
“I’m using my savings to gamble and so far I haven’t had to borrow any money to play,” Lim said.
The National Council on Problem Gambling, set up in 2005, said calls to its helpline have increased “significantly” since Resorts World opened and more people have asked to be added to a list preventing them from entering the casinos.
V. Radakrishnan, a 27-year-old interior designer for offices and pubs, said he’s spent S$13,000 at Resorts World Sentosa’s jackpot machines and baccarat tables. While he’s won about S$6,000 at the slot machines, he said he has yet to “conquer” the baccarat tables.
“It’s just for fun and I don’t mind losing,” Radakrishnan said as he entered the Marina Bay Sands. “I look at it as my contribution to the economy. The government should be happy.”