Last Updated on 14 August 2023 by Nicholas Lim
This article assesses the characteristics of casinos as tourist attractions within Singapore’s landscape. Given Singapore’s recent adoption of casinos within large-scale integrated resort projects, the study delves into the economic and social implications of such establishments. Employing a case study approach with publicly available data, the study finds that while the commercial gains are evident, there are societal concerns that persist. Government regulatory efforts to address these concerns remain under evaluation. The research provides a detailed understanding of the complexities surrounding casino establishments, their expected outcomes, and their potential impacts on society.
Singapore introduced two major integrated resorts with central casino components in 2010. This research studies the motivations behind such projects, the results they brought, and their potential negative impacts. It emphasizes the strong economic motivations behind the establishment of casinos while drawing attention to the societal challenges they introduce.
Casinos as Visitor Attractions
Literature suggests varied perspectives on casinos, ranging from their legal and economic implications to their societal impact. While casinos have significantly contributed to tourism in regions like North America, their extension into Asia has garnered attention. They can be major revenue generators but also come with societal challenges, including issues related to crime and the moral debate on gambling.
Casino Decision, Integrated Resorts and Reactions in Singapore
Previously banned, the decision to introduce casinos in Singapore marked a significant shift in the nation’s policy. Economic considerations, coupled with the desire to bolster tourism and rebrand Singapore as a vibrant destination, were primary drivers. However, this move also sparked public debate, particularly regarding the potential negative implications of such establishments on the local populace.
Singapore’s venture into the world of casinos offers an intriguing study of balancing economic aspirations with societal wellbeing. The introduction of these integrated resorts has undeniably boosted tourism and provided an economic impetus. Yet, the concerns about societal implications, including addiction and potential crime, require serious attention and effective regulation. Future evaluations will determine if Singapore’s model can adequately address these challenges and serve as a blueprint for other nations contemplating a similar trajectory.
- National Framework on Gambling (2005): The Singaporean government recognized the potential issues surrounding gambling early on and allocated funds to establish and run a regulatory body.
- Casino Control Act (2006): This legislation led to the creation of the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) in 2008, which works on keeping crime out of casinos and ensuring the integrity of gaming while supporting the casino industry in Singapore.
- Social Safeguards: To limit local participation in gambling and protect vulnerable sections of society, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents have to pay entrance fees to casinos. The age limit is 21, advertising to locals is restricted, and casinos can’t offer credit to most locals.
- Junket Operators: These entities, which often organize gambling trips and offer credit to players, are under tight regulatory scrutiny with licensing and record-keeping requirements.
- Vulnerable groups, including low-income migrant workers and elderly Singaporeans, have been noted to frequent casinos, leading to concerns about potential losses and social issues.
- Issues surrounding the exclusion order system were raised, where individuals or their families can seek bans from casinos.
- Concerns also spread to neighboring Malaysia, with complaints about Malaysians gambling in Singapore and possible illicit activities, such as loan sharks targeting Malaysian visitors.
- Despite social concerns, the integrated resorts were seen as commercial successes. They have had positive impacts on public finances, job creation, and tourism.
- The “other services” component in the national accounts, which includes the contributions from casinos, showed significant growth after the opening of the integrated resorts.
- A balance is needed between local and foreign gamblers. While casinos might prefer a stable local market, the government aims to limit local participation.
Casinos in Singapore bring both economic benefits and potential social costs. While they offer significant economic contributions, challenges linked to crime, problem gambling, and other social issues emerge. The Singaporean government’s regulatory approach aims to strike a balance between these contrasting outcomes, though the effectiveness of this strategy remains a subject of ongoing observation and adjustment.