CRA WORKPLAN SEMINAR 2011
17 Jun 2011
Keynote Address by Mr Masagos Zulkifli Bin Masagos Mohamad , Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Foreign Affairs
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI BIN MASAGOS MOHAMAD , MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS & MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT THE CASINO REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE WORKPLAN SEMINAR 2011 ON 17 JUNE 2011, 9.25 AM, AT THE MAPLETREE BUSINESS CENTRE AUDITORIUM
Chairman CRA, and CRA Board Members,
Executive Director of the Queensland Office of Liquor & Gaming Regulation, Michael Sarquis,
Officers of the Casino Regulatory Authority,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Indeed, Singapore’s two casinos at the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Integrated Resorts have been open for over a year. They have been lauded, in numerous media reports, as being among the more profitable casinos in the world and described as a gambit that has paid off for Singapore.
2. The casinos and the IRs have brought tourists to Singapore and brought jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans. However, we must be mindful that this must be achieved with both casinos operating in a manner which is transparent and responsible, in order to keep them free of crime and improper influence. For this, the CRA has done an excellent job over the past year ensuring that we have a strong and effective regulatory regime in place. Our challenge then, is to ensure that this continues moving forward.
STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS; SHARPENING CAPABILITIES
Learning from International Partners
3. The gaming industry is a globalised business. RWS and MBS began their gaming operations in other parts of the world before moving into our borders. Similarly, patrons come from all over the world to our casinos.
4. Therefore, over the past few years CRA has made it a priority to partner and learn from regulators in key jurisdictions overseas. This has enabled CRA to build up a deep understanding of the different regulatory requirements, as well as the market realities faced by casino operators in various jurisdictions. More importantly, it has also allowed CRA to understand the threats and challenges faced by other jurisdictions. CRA has thus been able to continually refine its regulatory framework, and bench-mark it against international best practices.
5. Having benefited greatly from the community of international regulatory bodies, it is timely for CRA to take this collaboration to the next level. The practical experience that CRA has gained over the past year also puts CRA in a good position to contribute back to the international regulatory community.
6. Just last month, CRA signed a milestone Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Today, CRA will be signing another MOU with the Queensland Office of Liquor & Gaming Regulation. These MOUs pave the way for enhanced collaboration in the field of gaming regulation, and help to cement the close working relationships between CRA and these renowned international gaming regulators.
Leveraging on Local Partners
7. Locally, in January this year, CRA signed a MOU with the National University of Singapore (NUS). The MOU establishes a framework for greater collaboration between CRA and NUS in joint research projects on mathematical algorithms used to ensure gaming integrity in the casino industry. Close partnerships with local academic institutions and industry partners, such as test laboratories and gaming manufacturers, will allow CRA to stay at the forefront of technology, and therefore, so to speak, ahead of the game. They will also benefit our local partners, who also gain the opportunity to build expertise in this area.
Collaboration against crime
8. CRA’s strong partnership with fellow Home Team agencies, particularly the Police, has kept law and order problems arising from the casinos at bay. In the first year of casino operations, there were fewer than 300 cases reported at the casinos, mainly theft-related and cheating cases involving isolated individuals. This represents around 1% of overall crime island wide.
9. However, the risks of criminal infiltration and organised crime groups trying to establish themselves remain very real, and we must continue to be vigilant. CRA and the Home Team recognise it is difficult to eradicate organised crime once it has taken root. Indeed, CRA must continue to harden the casinos against such infiltration, and to take a tough stance against any form of criminality in the casinos, such as the presence of unlicensed money lenders, particularly syndicated ones.
A BALANCING ACT
10. At the governmental level, safety and security are not the only concerns we have with regard to the casinos. While the CRA needs to take into account the business objectives of the IR operators, it also has a responsibility to ensure that Whole-Of-Government objectives are achieved. The act of balancing these competing demands, without compromising CRA’s reputation as a referenced regulator, is a delicate one. I am therefore glad that CRA has been playing an active role in the inter-agency committee chaired by 2nd Minister S Iswaran set up to coordinate this.
11. A key focus is ensuring social safeguards are strictly observed by the casino operators. This is necessary to ensure that the social problems associated with casino gambling can be prevented, contained and mitigated. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports is taking the lead in addressing concerns relating to the social impact of casino gambling. CRA must continue to work closely with MCYS to enhance our regulatory framework. Your perspective as regulator will be invaluable to this process.
12. As a conclusion, let me pay a tribute to Raja, who is leaving CRA. His strong leadership of the CRA has put it in prime position to meet the challenges of the future. Notably, he succeeded to bring a new organization up to speed very quickly and effectively to regulate an area of concern totally alien at the time it was set up. I think all of us can agree that he has done a job we can all be proud of. I would like to express my thanks to him for his dedication and hard work in this arena over the past 6 years.
13. I wish him all the best in his new appointment as Deputy Commissioner of Police, and I am delighted to welcome Mr Lau Peet Meng to the leadership of the CRA. I have no doubt that he will build on the strong foundations which have been put in place, and bring the CRA to greater heights.
14. On this note, I wish you a fruitful and engaging seminar.