Saturday, 25 November 2017

Casino levies paid by Singaporeans and PRs at their lowest level since opening of two casinos in 2010: Tote Board Annual Report 2016/17

Singaporeans, permanent residents paid $134 million in fees in last financial year, down 21% from 2012/2013
By Theresa Tan, The Straits Times, 24 Nov 2017

Casino levies paid by Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) here are at their lowest level since the casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands were opened in 2010.

The Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board) collected $134 million in casino entry levies in its last financial year, which ended in March this year - down 21 per cent from the $170 million collected in the 2012/2013 financial year (FY).

The sums collected for the past five financial years were listed in the Tote Board's latest annual report, which was released yesterday.

Singaporeans and PRs have to pay a $100 daily levy or $2,000 annual levy to enter a casino here.

Economist Song Seng Wun said: "The shine of the casinos and its novelty have worn off."

Also out of favour with punters: Horse racing, where turnover fell from $1.6 billion in FY2012/2013 to $1.2 billion in FY2016/2017.

But the lure of 4D, Toto and soccer betting is growing steadily, with $7.2 billion spent on lotteries and sports betting in the last financial year, 15 per cent more than the $6.2 billion in FY2012/2013.

Counsellors who work with gambling addicts said fewer Singaporeans and PRs are going to the casinos here as they are put off by the need to pay an entry levy, and opting for alternatives instead: Illegal online casinos where gamblers can bet on credit, unlike in the casinos here, where they have to fork out cash upfront to bet.

Besides, those who have lost all their money are likely to have barred themselves or have been banned from the casinos here by their families, said Pastor Billy Lee, executive director of Blessed Grace Social Services, which runs a support group for gambling addicts.

The website of the National Council on Problem Gambling shows that as of Sept 30 this year, more than 25,000 Singaporeans or PRs have banned themselves from the casinos, or their families have applied for an exclusion order to ban them from entering.

And almost 47,000 are automatically excluded as they are undischarged bankrupts or are receiving government financial aid, among other reasons.

It was previously reported that Singaporeans and PRs made an average of 17,000 visits a day in 2012, down from 20,000 visits in 2010 when the casinos first opened.

This is one of the few pieces of publicly available information on the number of local visitors, and is based on data contained in the 2013 Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore annual report.

The sums wagered on lotteries and sports, such as soccer and motor racing, continue to climb. This has been rising each year in the Tote Board's past five financial years.

Counsellors said that the sums wagered at the legal outlets are but a fraction of the sums spent on illegal gambling. Many of the gambling addicts they see place illegal bets online.

Tote Board gave $418 million to a variety of causes
By Theresa Tan, The Straits Times, 24 Nov 2017

Singapore's biggest giver of funds, the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board), has handed out $418 million to a wide range of causes.

The key projects include the Tote Board Mental Health Initiative and Enabling Masterplan, the national blueprint for disability services.

The grants handed out are from its last financial year, which ended in March this year.

Mr Chew Sutat, chairman of Caregivers Alliance, a charity that runs programmes to support caregivers of the mentally ill, said the Tote Board's grants help the group to provide its services for free.

Noting the stigma attached to mental illness, he said: "By keeping our programmes free, we are able to get more caregivers to come."

About one in eight adult residents, comprising Singaporeans and permanent residents, has experienced a mental illness, according to a 2010 Singapore Mental Health Study.

Since the Tote Board was set up as a statutory board in 1988, it has given out more than $8 billion.

The money, from lotteries, horse races and other games, is given to causes ranging from the arts to education, and social services to sports.

The latest distribution figure is lower than that in the last two financial years - $542 million was given in the 2014 financial year, and $579 million a year later.

During those two years, it supported big-ticket items such as the development of the Sports Hub and National Gallery, as well as various community events like the Chingay Parade and National Day Parade.

It also gave an additional $125 million to the Care and Share@SG 50 Movement, out of the $250 million in grants pledged by the Government to match donations raised by charities and the Community Chest.

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