Singapore

Council places casino visit limit on over 5,000 people

Such people with poor credit records can visit casino up to four times a month only

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has imposed a cap on over 5,000 people to limit the number of times they can visit the casinos here a month.

A total of 5,035 people have been issued a third-party visit limit as at the end of last year - about 14 times more than the 354 people given the visit limit when the scheme started in 2013.

The third-party visit limit is for people with poor credit records or the "financially vulnerable" who do not have the means to gamble in casinos frequently.

An NCPG spokesman told The Straits Times the current average cap is four visits a month.

She added: "However, casino gamblers should not have the impression that four visits a month is a safe limit, as the circumstances surrounding each gambler are different."

The NCPG said the number of visit limits issued has increased as it is a cumulative figure since 2013.

In deciding who to impose the limit on, the NCPG considers various risk factors, such as how often a person visits the casino, credit history, financial situation and information given by family members.

Under the law, the NCPG has the power to ask Singaporeans and permanent residents for their bank and Central Provident Fund statements, among other information, to ascertain their financial situation.

Individuals can also voluntarily limit their trips to the casinos by opting for either one, two, four, six or eight visits a month. There were 2,289 people on voluntary visit limit at the end of last year, up from 221 in 2013.

Family members can also apply to put a cap on their loved ones' casino visits. However, there were only 20 family visit limits at the end of last year.

For family visit limits, the NCPG's committee of assessors will determine the harm that the problem gambler has brought to his family and decide on the number of times a month the person can enter a casino here.

The NCPG spokesman said: "In situations where the harm (caused by the problem gambler) is assessed to be severe, the family may be advised by the NCPG to withdraw the family visit limit application and apply for family exclusion."

An exclusion order bars a person from going to the casinos.

An individual can also ban himself.

The casinos were in the news as the Government announced on April 3 that Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa will spend about $9 billion to build new attractions and will also be allowed to expand their gambling operations.

At the same time, social safeguards have been enhanced, with the daily casino entry levy for Singaporeans and PRs raised from $100 to $150 and the annual levy from $2,000 to $3,000 since last Thursday.

Meanwhile, the NCPG said it is looking to put in place more preventive measures, including the use of technology to promote responsible gambling.

The two integrated resorts will conduct a joint study with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to understand the technologies and options available.

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