Gov’t reviewing Casino Control Act

The government is currently reviewing the Casino Control Act which governs the two integrated resorts (IRs) in Singapore, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S Iswaran said on Sunday.

According to local media reports, Iswaran also said that the review of the relevant legislation and regulations is timely, given that both Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands have already been in operation for two years.

The relevant agencies will look into the economic, security and social aspects surrounding the IRs, reported The Straits Times (ST).

Economically, the IRs — which contributed to nearly 1.5 per cent of the country's GDP — have done well, Iswaran said, before adding that the government's interest now is to ensure that the IRs continue to be attractive tourism products in the long term.

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), the Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry also emphasised that a dynamic balance must be maintained "to ensure that we achieve our economic objectives whilst minimising the social ills which we are concerned about genuinely".

In an online poll Yahoo! created last week that asked for readers' views on the casinos in Singapore, about half of the 301 who voted felt by midnight Sunday that the casinos have created more social problems than benefits.

Still, about a third either had no issues with the casinos or thought they provided a net benefit. About 7 per cent believed benefits were the same as the drawbacks while 9 per cent agreed it was too easy for locals to get in to the casinos to gamble.

Last Thursday, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports said it is prepared to strengthen social safeguards to protect Singaporeans from problem gambling.

The ministry's statement came on the back of a 2011 survey conducted by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) which highlighted a worrying trend — more low-income gamblers are placing heavier bets.

Perhaps responding to the public's concerns, Iswaran also said on Sunday, as quoted by CNA, that "responsible gaming is an important aspect of the entire integrated resorts and responsible is not just about regulation, it is also about the operators themselves, stepping up as good corporate citizens."

According to ST, the minister expects the outcome of the review to be released in the second half of the year.

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