banner-news-and-events

NEWS & EVENTS

CRA WORKPLAN SEMINAR 2011

17 Jun 2011

Speech by Mr Richard Magnus, Chairman, Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore



SPEECH BY MR RICHARD MAGNUS, CHAIRMAN, CASINO REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, AT THE CASINO REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE WORKPLAN SEMINAR 2011, HELD ON FRIDAY, 17 JUNE 2011, 10.50AM, AT THE MAPLETREE BUSINESS CENTRE AUDITORIUM


Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli,
Executive Director, Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, Mr Michael Sarquis,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,



Good Morning,



INTRODUCTION


Let me warmly welcome you to the CRA Workplan Seminar 2011. I want to thank the Minister of State for his Keynote Address, especially his reminder of the need to meet the Whole of Government objectives. This we shall do for the work year. I would like also to express our appreciation to Mr Michael Sarquis for his presence to sign the MOU between CRA and his Office. I understand he just reached Singapore yesterday. Michael, we value very much the continuing collaboration with your Office. This cooperation would enable us, to use your words, to strengthen our existing ties and enhance the sharing of best practices and regulatory information. And thank you again, for your very warm words of the CRA.



STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS, SHARPENING CAPABILITIES


2. Today’s workplan builds on our two previous workplans. The theme for this Workplan Seminar is “Strengthening Partnerships, Sharpening Capabilities”. The MOU between CRA and the Queensland Office of Liquor & Gaming Regulation (QOLGR) visibly and vividly illustrates our desire to institutionalize our learning from referenced casino regulators, in this case from Queensland.


3. As Mr Michael Sarquis has shared, the QOLGR has been forthcoming in sharing knowledge of the regulations of the casino industry with CRA when we first started out. Our officers have taken advantage of the learning opportunities offered by Queensland. Together with similar training opportunities from other jurisdictions, our officers have, cumulatively, a strong professional foundation to perform their work effectively and efficiently.



CHANGES IN THE CRA BOARD


4. This is CRA’s third workplan seminar. It would be timely, given the dynamic nature of the casino industry, to do a review of our journey.



5. Briefly, it has been just over three years since the formation of the CRA. This April saw the conclusion of the first term of the CRA Board. The Board has worked very hard and I must say has done well. It provided strategic guidance and directions of the regulatory framework on the various aspects of regulating the casinos. It established and where necessary proscribed the internal management, financial, audit, manpower and other administrative processes and protocols of the CRA management.



6. After a three-year term, several Board members have stepped down because of their other commitments. New members to the Board were appointed and, for continuity, others re-appointed for a second term on the CRA Board. It also gave us an opportunity to bring on board a broader expertise. There are new challenges in regulating the casino industry; I had mentioned some of these in my 2nd Workplan Address. An editorial in The Straits Times, titled “Right on the money”, published last Friday (10 June 2011), referred to other challenges too.



7. I would like to thank Group Chief Executive Officer, Singtel, Ms. Chua Sock Koong, Deputy Secretary (Performance) Ministry of Finance, Mr Lim Hock Chuan and Director, Defence Finance Organisation, Ministry of Defence, Mr Jeffrey Wong for their contribution and dedication to the Board.



8. At the same time, I welcome the new members who have joined us this year as the CRA Board embarks on a new term. The 5 new members are - Senior Partner, Chang See Hiang & Partners, Mr Chang See Hiang; former Chief Executive, Central Provident Fund, Mr Liew Heng San; Non-Executive Chairman, Credit Suisse Asia Pacific, Mr Kaikhushru Shiavax Nargolwala; Director, Manpower Planning & Strategy Division, People Matters Group, Ministry of Health, Ms Lai Wei Lin; and Executive Chairman Aptitude Management Consulting Pte Ltd and Vice-Chair National Crime Prevention Council, Mr Eric Low.



9. The general agenda of the 2nd Board would be to continue to give depth and sustainability to the regulatory governance of the two casinos; this includes the matter of junkets and probity investigations which are stil going on; and also to ensure their due compliance with the spirit and letter of the Casino Control Act and the Regulations; entrenching and expanding our collaboration with our referenced casino jurisdictions and other auxiliary bodies; and ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the internal CRA management. This responsibility has in fact begun when the Board sat in April this year.



PLANS FOR THE COMING YEAR


10. But what are the plans for the coming year? I will lay out some specific initiatives for CRA in this workplan year.



11. We would be appointing Mr Dennis Neilander as a new member of our International Advisory Panel (IAP). Mr Neilander was formerly the Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and served as Chair of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR). I met Dennis, both in Singapore and in Nevada, some three years ago while he was stiil in office. Together with our two other IAP members – Mr Peter Dean and Mr David Ford, the IAP would consist of former outstanding regulators from respectable gaming jurisdictions in the US, Europe and Australia. Given their experience, they would be able to provide invaluable advice to CRA on matters concerning contemporary casinos operations and policies.



12. Next, with both casinos having been in operation for more than a year, they would have by now sorted out any kinks in their operations and moved into a steady state of operations. It is timely then that CRA commences a full scope inspection of the casinos this year. I thought I should mention this since senior officers of the two casinos are also with us today. Consider this as due notice having been given. This would be on top of our regular monitoring of the casinos. The full scope inspection would include detailed on-site inspection of electronic gaming equipment deployed in the casinos as well as comprehensive checks on the casino operations. This inspection of the casinos is necessary in determining whether the casino licensees are complying with the Act, its regulations and licensing requirements, internal controls code, and approved game rules. And when we do this, we will of course be mindful of the Whole of Government objectives.



13. We take seriously the task of upholding the reputation of Singapore as a clean, respectable gaming jurisdiction. Where the casino operators have breached regulatory requirements, we have stepped in and taken disciplinary actions where appropriate. For every case, let me give you the assurance that CRA officers are meticul ous in their investigations; and the Board has deliberated long and hard over each decision, and where warranted, imposed penalties and calibrated our penalties. It is especially so because the Board exercises disciplinary responsibilities and undertakes quasi judicial functions.



14. At the corporate entity level, we are embarking on an organization-wide exercise to formalize and test our risk management framework so as to be better equipped to deal with risks and threats which we may encounter.



15. As a new regulatory authority establishing its credibility and standing, it is important that the CRA, from the Chairman down, act, and be seen as, a highly ethical organisation. To this end, a whistle-blowing framework has been established to facilitate the maintenance of good governance in the organisation. The framework will also provide CRA with a structured mechanism to identify and rectify any impropriety early within the organisation.



16. Next, we will need to continually ensure that our varied and complex processes including investigation, probity, and intelligence, technological and administrative processes are in line with international standards. This is particularly where our external collaborations become especially helpful.



17. In this regard, in the area of audit, I am pleased that recently CRA obtained the ISO9001:2008 certification for Info-Comm Technology. This means that our Info-Comm Technology project management, operational and maintenance policies, processes and procedures have met and are on par with international standards.



18. Well, there has been much discussion about the possibility that Singapore’s two casinos may overtake Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue. CRA must keep its sight focused squarely on keeping the casinos free of criminal influence, ensure that gaming is conducted honestly, and protect the vulnerable from the potential of harm caused by the casinos. CRA’s mission has become more critical with the extraordinary growth of the industry.



19. Well, this is our third Workplan Seminar together. The past three years have been very busy, with many challenges which had to be overcome. I would like to thank former Chief Executive Mr T. Raja Kumar and all our CRA officers for their strong commitment and contribution to CRA. We look forward to working well with the new Chief Executive, Mr Lau Peet Meng and all our CRA officers, a 120 of us. As we take stock, as we review, we will reposition ourselves, several times if necessary, to meet the challenges ahead. I am optimistic. Thank you and I wish our new CE and our officers a meaningful seminar.