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Do Responsible Gambling Programs Undermine Gaming Profits?

by Jon Kelly, CEO | Apr 27, 2012 12:33 PM

Newscan (Vol. 14, Issue 16)

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands and ArtScience Museum in Singapore.

There is a worry, sometimes spoken and often unspoken, that responsible gambling (RG) programs undermine the profitability of gaming companies. And profit is, of course, a legitimate concern for anyone running a business. But the answers to this question are not straightforward. Many factors are involved, not the least of which is the quality of the RG programs.

Having said this, anyone concerned about RG and profits might usefully look at the Singapore experience. This tiny republic introduced casino gambling in 2010 with the opening of two casinos—the Marina Bay Sands (shown above) and Resorts World Sentosa. In the past two years, these casinos have become so profitable, as reported by the Asia Times, that, “In their first full year of operations last year, [they] likely registered more gambling revenue than the 39 casinos along the legendary Las Vegas Strip.” That makes Singapore the second most profitable casino gaming jurisdiction in the world after Macau. 

At the same time, Singapore introduced some quite stringent provisions for RG and some additional non-RG features that also to serve an RG function. Among the most prominent features is the fact that Singapore casinos cannot advertise gambling. (Since the casinos are located in large resorts, other resort features can be promoted, but not gambling itself.) Beyond this restriction, Singapore has introduced several other constraints, including:

  • Self-exclusion, family exclusion and third-party exclusion
  • Tight control of casino access, requiring visitors to show identification
  • A $100 access fee (levy) for residents of Singapore
  • Short-term bans, known as Persona Non-Grata orders or PNGs, which are used for activities such as leaving children unattended, begging or attempting to sell valuables
  • Extensive publication of local help and counseling programs throughout the casinos

This is not to suggest that Singapore has got it all perfect—but somehow, in spite of these and other RG measures, the Singapore casinos have managed to make a lot of profit in a very short time. This jurisdiction offers at least some prima facie evidence that it is quite possible for strong RG limits and business success to co-exist.

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