Speakers at the 4th Singapore Symposium on Casino Regulation and Crime give us their first-hand regulatory insights into developments around the world.
Q: What are the useful insights for regulators that may be drawn from Singapore’s experiences with treating, mitigating and preventing problem gambling?
DR. LIM YUN CHIN
The great majority of the population does not experience problems with gambling at the casino. It is the vulnerable population that society needs to evoke a response. The public health strategy adopted by Singapore is essentially focused on Prevention
of Harm by measures to protect the vulnerable or potentially vulnerable in society rather than preventing access to the casinos. Thus the strategy that has received the greatest evaluative attention internationally is Exclusions, either mandated
or voluntary. This includes the whole range of interventions from total abstinence for a minority of individuals to that of controlling or setting limits on others whose gambling activities have been flagged as an issue of concern.
Challenges confronting the authorities in the effective implementation of such a program are the accurate identification of vulnerable individuals. Building up capability in fine-tuning the identification of vulnerable citizens remains a work in
progress. So far, the enforcement and monitoring of such vulnerable individuals have proceeded uneventfully with the high level of co-operation between the regulators and the industry coupled with the overwhelming support of the general public.
Industry staff could also contribute to these goals by being trained in identifying such vulnerable individuals and persuading them to opt for voluntary limits.
Apart from implementing the exclusion/visit limit measures, it is also important to expand our view of such measures and to see them as a gateway to formal treatment. Providing treatment and access to professional help services once an individual
has been excluded is the keystone of the strategy. These services include referrals for problem gamblers and their families to the specialised clinical services such as the National Addictions Management Service and Thye Hua Kwan Family Service
Centres. Formal evaluation of problem gambling treatment services are on-going and ensuring the best practices of these services is critical if we are to understand and fill the gaps in the provisions of such services.
Q: What is the measure for regulatory effectiveness?
MR. ANDRÉ WILSENACH
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR GAMING REGULATION
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS
- A financially successful gaming industry;
- An innovative gaming industry;
- Gaming operators actively supporting and maintaining full compliance with the regulatory framework;
- Being appreciative of the interests of the public and their need for protection; and
- Ethical behaviour being practiced by both the regulator and gaming operator.
Q: How has Queensland’s regulatory landscape evolved, and what are the implications for both existing and new operators?
MR. MIKE SARQUIS
OFFICE OF LIQUOR
AND GAMING REGULATION (OLGR), QUEENSLAND
There has been considerable local and international investor interest in Queensland’s four existing casinos resulting in the change of ownership of one property and significant equity acquisitions or proposed acquisitions of other licensees.
Additionally the Queensland Government has been committed to improving and expanding tourism infrastructure and has been seeking proposals for the development of a metropolitan integrated resort and up to two regional integrated resorts with the
potential for associated casinos.
This has resulted in OLGR reassessing how it can adequately resource a significantly increased number of suitability investigations involving international organisations, and deal with associated corporate, cultural and language differences.
The Queensland Government has now adopted a cost recovery approach which permitted OLGR to increase its investigative resources, contract legal and accounting firms with experience in relevant overseas jurisdictions and allow for travel to those
countries to conduct appropriate investigations.
These changes in the Queensland casino landscape have also had significant implications for the new and existing operators. Increased competition is evident and operators are seeking to gain a greater share of the international tourism market and
attract national and international premium players. In building their patron base operators are primarily targeting the Asian region in addition to the local market.