In recent years, gambling in Singapore has become more sophisticated and more available, making it one of the tourist attractions in Asia. A gambling ban that had been imposed for decades was lifted to give way to a tourism strategy that included establishing casinos in order to bring in more visitors to Singapore. As a result, two new casinos were opened in 2010: the Casino at Marina Bay Sands and the Resorts World Casino at Sentosa.
The opening of these two elegant casinos succeeded in luring visitors from nearby Asian countries and other parts of the world. In fact, it was so successful that the Lion City is foreseen to dislodge Las Vegas in 2012 from the number 2 spot for having the largest gambling market. Las Vegas fell from the number 1 spot in 2006 and came second to Macau.
The government’s decision to lift the gambling ban and allow casinos to be built came as a surprise to the rest of the world. Singapore has always held the reputation of shunning vices by embracing discipline and self-control, which was the reason why gambling was banned in the first place. In this city-state, discipline is given such a high premium that penalties are imposed on simple offenses like littering and jay walking. Chewing gum, which people sometimes dispose of in an undisciplined manner like sticking it under chairs and tables or throwing it on the sidewalk, has been banned in Singapore since 1992.
Thus, allowing gambling in Singapore has raised some questions. Is the strict government finally loosening up? The answer, of course, is no. The elegant casinos in Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa primarily target nonresidents. To discourage the locals from frequenting the casinos, the government requires Singapore citizens and permanent residents to pay an unrefundable levy of $100 for a 24-hour access to the casino or $2,000 for a 12-month access. So far, the levy has been effective in preventing many Singaporeans from gambling as they find it too expensive.
Advertising gambling in Singapore is not allowed in the local scene but is encouraged in the international scene. Even websites meant to attract the locals to go to the casinos are taken down. Singaporeans are always reminded that it is their responsibility to report any family member in whom they observe problem gambling behavior. When reported, such family member will be blacklisted in the casinos. The government has provided some guidelines to help Singaporeans identify problem gambling behavior. Examples of these are staying in the casino for a longer time than originally planned, gambling until all the money is gone, and borrowing money just to be able to gamble.
As mentioned, the two major places for gambling in Singapore are found in the Marina Bay Sands and in Resorts World Sentosa. The Marina Bay Sands has 1,600 slot machines, lots of electronic table games, and almost 500 table games offering Singapore Stud Poker, Money Wheel, Baccarat, Sic-Bo, and Roulette. Resorts World Casino also has numerous slots machines and table games. A dress code is in place here: those who are wearing shorts and slippers will not be allowed to enter the casino.