Government committed to contain social impact of gambling, including online gambling

Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry, S Iswaran says the government is fully committed to contain the social impact of gambling. 

Mr Iswaran said there's an ongoing review of the regulatory framework and social safeguards for non-casino gambling, including gambling via online channels. 

This will include studying developments in other countries carefully before drawing up the framework. 

He was addressing concerns raised by MPs as Parliament debated the amendments to the Casino Control Bill today, 

One key amendment is the introduction of new social safeguards in the form of a visit limit to the two casinos in Singapore. 

Mr Iswaran said Singapore already has one of the world's most extensive social safeguards regime. 

And will continue to stay vigilant and ensure that vulnerable segments of society continue to be protected from the harms of gambling.

He said the value proposition of the Integrated Resorts is the economic benefits that they bring and their role in making Singapore a vibrant and dynamic economy. 

And that the two IRs aim to create real opportunities for Singaporeans and Singapore companies. 

"We want the IRs to continue to reinvest and upgrade their attractions and facilities, stay ahead of regional competitors, and remain compelling world-class tourist destinations. This way, they will create jobs for Singaporeans,
attract more tourists and increase business opportunities for local SMEs."

Singaporean Citizens he said, comprise about 80% of the IRs' local employees (SCs and PRs). 

Singaporeans hold jobs in all areas of the IRs' operations. 

These range from positions in theme park operations in Universal Studios Singapore, to marine specialists at the RWS Marine Life Park, to education programme managers at MBS' ArtScience Museum and RWS' Maritime Experiential Museum (MEM). 

It was estimated that the IRs would generate about 20,000 direct jobs and between 50,000 and 60,000 jobs economy-wide by 2015.

But he assured the Government pursues a broad-based growth strategy and there is no risk of the economy becoming dependent on gaming. 

He said the two IRs (including their non-gaming components) contribute only about 1.5 to 2% of Singapore's Gross Domestic Product. 

The 22,400 employees employed by the IRs comprise about 0.7% of the total labour force. 

The gaming taxes comprise a small fraction of government revenues. 

In FY 2011, after taking into account the net increase in tax revenues due to the IR casinos was $1.1 billion, 2.2% of total Government operating revenue. 

Mr Iswaran also disagreed with some MPs who suggested scrapping the annual entry levy of $2,000. 

He said of the total number of entry levies purchased by locals, only about 1% were annual entry levies. 

The annual levy is $2,000 while the daily entry levy is $100.