4-D, Toto up, as popularity of casinos and the track drops

This article is more than 12 months old

Singaporeans spent $7.2 billion on lotteries, sports betting last year; collected casino levies lowest ever

Singaporeans spent $7.2 billion on lotteries and sports betting in the last financial year, 15 per cent more than the $6.2 billion in FY2012/2013.

While the lure of 4-D, Toto and football betting is growing steadily, fewer are making visits to the casinos here, going by figures provided by The Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board) yesterday.

According to the Tote Board's latest annual report, casino levies paid by Singaporeans and permanent residents here are at their lowest level since the casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands opened in 2010.

The Tote Board collected $134 million in casino entry levies in its last financial year, which ended in March - down 21 per cent from the $170 million collected in financial year (FY) 2012/2013. 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, which saw turnover drop from $1.6 billion in FY2012/2013 to $1.2 billion in FY2016/2017.

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 - like illegal online casinos where gamblers can bet on credit, unlike in the casinos here where they have to fork out the cash upfront.

Besides, those who have lost considerable sums 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, over 25,000 Singaporeans and PRs have banned themselves from the casinos, or their families have applied for an exclusion order to ban them from entering.

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

Meanwhile, the Tote Board said yesterday that it 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.

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 racing and other games, is given to causes ranging from the arts to education, and social services to sports.

In the 2014 financial year, it gave $542 million, 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 community events like the Chingay Parade and National Day Parade.

It also gave an additional $125 million to the Care and Share @ SG50 Movement, out of the $250 million in grants pledged by the Government to match donations raised by charities and the Community Chest.