The Controversy over the Integrated Resorts
MPs: Put casino issue to the vote
Source: The Straits Times 2 March 2005
One wants a vote in Parliament; another, a referendum
Still, two Members of the House want the controversial issue to be put to the vote.
The veteran MP is also worried that the decision is 'already tilting in favour of having a casino'. Calling it an integrated resort is a red herring because the casino will still be the centrepiece, he said. 'Otherwise, you can be sure all the casino moguls around the world will not be scrambling here for a piece of the action if it is just to provide wholesome family entertainment,' he added.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said a final decision will be made in mid-April, but the Government has invited local and international companies to outline concepts for the project. Between 15 and 20 players are said to have submitted proposals by the deadline two days ago, and this has convinced Non-Constituency MP Steve Chia that the Government has decided in principle to allow a casino. 'Their intention to proceed is already clear. What is not decided is whether to accept any of the proposals,' he said.
'It's similar to the way the Singapore Land Authority calls for public tender for state land. Their intention is to sell. All they are waiting for is the right tender price.' So, Mr Chia wants the proposals to be made public and discussed before a decision is made.
Dr Loo, who favours a referendum, said people have a 'mistaken perception' that the Government has made up its mind. 'Coffee-shop talk is that this (decision) is already 'kelong',' quipped Dr Loo, referring to the local slang for match-fixing in football.
He believes by 'submitting this issue to a binding referendum, the Government can also demonstrate that it really means to have a public debate and that people's views matter.' Dr Loo said he personally did not believe in 'government by referendum' but felt a vote on the issue would clearly show Singapore's moral stand.
Speech by Mr Alvin Yeo in Parliament
The decision to allow a casino component in the IR concept was reached after extensive public consultation and often heated debate. But what is often obscure, amidst the heat and dust, is that the move was driven by market forces rather than a desire to allow Singaporeans to gamble their savings away. Put it another way, the decision was really to go with what the market was looking for and then try to contain and counter the social fallout through controls and counselling and other measures. And if we had any choice but to go with what market forces were demanding, did Singapore, without the natural attractions of the Three Gorges or Mount Fuji, without the historical sites of an Angkor Wat or Borobudor, really have a choice? I would say not, if they wanted to create sufficient buzz about this island to grow the volume of visitor arrivals that form a significant segment of our economy."
Speaking at a question and answer session at the 23rd Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture, Mr Magnus said that the study concluded that gambling addiction numbers before and after the establishment of the IRs remained the same.
What the IRs did, though, was provide "just another avenue for gambling", said Mr Magnus.
He added: "The thinking is that some of these gamblers moved away from the traditional gambling areas and move into casinos." Read more.
Ms Fu also expressed her concern over the rising number of advertisements by moneylenders offering "quick loan/fast cash", in Chinese dailies Shin Min and Wanbao as well as The New Paper.
THURSDAY'S articles paint a picture of increasing numbers of people falling prey to their gambling addictions and requiring assistance ('More gamblers seek help for addiction', 'Frequent and heavy gambling also a concern', 'Finding hope to beat gambling monster' and 'Kicking the habit for good').
Credit Counselling Singapore statistics show that the proportion of people seeking counselling and attributing gambling as a main cause for being in debt climbed from 22 per cent last year to 29 per cent in the first half of this year.
Gambling problems have increased since the opening of the two casinos last year.
Apart from large gambling debts, a distressing and frequent characteristic is the speed at which such debts are incurred, often over the space of just a few months. We feel that this has been facilitated by easy access to the casinos.
Based on the anecdotal accounts of people resorting to crime as well as the increased number of people being assisted, it appears that Singaporeans could form a significant proportion of visitors to the two casinos.
These casinos have, within a short period, placed Singapore in second spot in terms of gambling turnover, surpassing even Las Vegas.
Such a turn must be viewed with concern if Singaporeans are being adversely affected.
The regulatory authorities should explain whether the original projected turnover from Singaporeans has been under-estimated, and what proportion of gambling turnover is contributed by Singaporeans.
By now, the authorities should know the pattern and frequency of Singaporean gamblers to the two casinos.
The daily entrance fee of $100 may no longer be a deterrent to Singaporeans who want to gamble, and is ineffective in stopping addicts.
We must have more effective curbs in addition to the casino exclusion ban.
We should consider imposing a limit based on the frequency of visits over a specified period.
Singaporeans could, for example, be allowed a fixed number of visits per quarter.
This should deter impulse gambling and be a more effective curb than the present pay-and-play, on-demand system, which is just raising revenue at the moment.
Kuo How Nam
Credit Counselling Singapore
Exerpt from The Straits Times 12 Nov 2011
In September, (Kuo How Nam, President of CCS) has written yet another letter to The Straits Times, this time calling for a citizen’s visits to the casinos to be limited
"we are seeing more people coming to us and attributing their debt problems to gambling’ said Mr Kuo, who said this number climbed from 22 per cent last year to 29 per cent in the first half of this year. He believes this figure does not reveal the true extent of the gambling problem.
This is why he hopes to see more measures introduced to discourage frequent visits to the casinos. Repeatedly calling gambling "a big problem", he said that while people had to take a coach to Genting to visit a casino in the past, "now if they have a lunchtime itch to gamble, they can scratch it straightaway".
"This will lead to more impulse gambling and the $100 daily entrance fee may no longer be a deterrent," he said. While he had called for the Government to allow Singaporeans only a fixed number of visits per quarter in his letter, he now also suggests tweaking entrance tees upwards, according to the frequency of one's visit.
On average, CCS counsels between 25 and 30 people a week, with three out of four of those who seek help being men. A majority » 66 per cent — of these debtors, or clients as Mr Kuo prefers to call them, are married with children, earning an average of $2,700 per month.What is most startling however, is this next nugget of information he provides: ”They usually owe $70,000 to seven creditors, an amount that will take more than, five years to repay, if they pay $1,100 a month/' While the number of CCS "clients" spiked in 2008 during the economic slowdown, he said it has been stable in the last two years.
More related links:
- Grace Fu voices concern over effects of casinos
- Singapore ahead in the losing game?
- Govt to make it crystal clear casinos cannot target domestic market
- Singapore's casinos 'expected to make close to S$9 billion next year'
- First junket operators for casino
- Government to tighten casino regime
- Govt 'anxiously' watching effects of IRs-"Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says the Government is "still watching anxiously" the social effects of Singapore's two integrated resorts, even as they have been successful in terms of business, urban planning and government revenue. " About a quarter of visitors to Singapore's two integrated resorts are locals.
on January 14, 2013