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Selling Gambling to the Singaporeans

For many years, Singapore was a nanny-state to her citizens, advancing far in terms of finance and economics only by keeping Singaporeans so in line that even gum chewing was a crime.  Gambling was also frowned upon, and so the government had quite a hard time justifying things when it planned to build two of the biggest casinos in the world right in this formerly straight laced country.  However, the government managed to sell gambling to the Singaporeans by telling them that if they didn’t get in on the race, other Far East powers would, and the country – which isn’t particularly blessed with natural resources – would lose out in the millions of dollars of gambling revenues that could be generated by the building of these casinos.

However, although Singapore has now become the Sin City, and will overtake Las Vegas as the number two gambling destination in the world (after Macau) next year, the government of Singapore is still trying to downplay the vibe and attraction of gambling to its own citizens.  The message goes something like this: “We needed to introduce gambling in order to remain ahead of the competition. Allowing casinos within our borders is good for the national economy. But, you, citizens of Singapore aren’t really supposed to be part of the entertainment factor of this industry, so we’re going to make it as unattractive for you as possible to join in the fun.”

And so, the authorities make it as difficult as possible for its own citizens to play in the two superb casinos, one owned by the Resorts World Rentosa and the other by the Vegas Sands Corp.  For one, Singapore citizens and permanent residents are slapped with an $80 charge if they want to visit one of the two casino resorts within a 24 hour period.  In addition, if family members believe that someone is showing signs of problem gambling, they can approach the casinos and ask to have them blacklisted.   Casinos are not allowed to advertise their services locally, and they have also been ordered to halt the running of free shuttle services from the city center to the casino locations in order to avoid temptation.

However, the demand for gambling has been bottled up for years, and with two of the finest gambling establishments literally on their doorsteps, it comes as no surprise that more local Singaporeans than was previously intended, visit the casinos. Time will tell if the Singaporean government’s gamble paid off and it manages to pull off the juggling act it set itself up for.

Posted in Gambling, Singapore.

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