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Events


IAGA SUMMIT Macau 2018


Pedro Cortés, Senior Partner, Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés – Advogados (Lektou)


Pedro joined Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés–Advogados in 2003 and is senior partner, holding the same position in ZLF Law Office. His main areas of practice are: gaming, banking and financial, capital markets, real estate, commercial and corporate, intellectual property and ADR. He is a member of the Macao Lawyers Association, Portuguese Bar Association, Brazilian Bar Association (OAB-São Paulo), Justice Department of Guangdong (as a cross-border Macau lawyer), IAGA and the International Bar Association and is qualified to work as a lawyer in East Timor. He is member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators and the Hong Kong Institute of Directors. He was lecturer for the master’s programme on social sciences–global economic politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is a regular speaker on gaming and non-gaming matters and contributes to several legal and non- legal publications.


In the recent years, the locals in Singapore have allegedly lost interest in the two casino resorts in the city state, avoiding the payment of the entry levy. But has this been, in the end, what was desired by the government? How many locals cross the border or board shipboard casinos? What is the percentage that also try other options, such as illegal gambling?


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN SINGAPORE?


Since its inception, Singapore’s gaming industry has been quite stable. Differently from its main competitor in the region – the Macau Special Administrative Region – the Singaporean Government imposed restrictions for the locals to enter into the casino and gaming areas, allowing only the free entrance to foreigners, which also includes those who are not Singaporean nationals and have work permits.


To summarise, there are two types of entry levy:


1. For every consecutive period of 24 hours – for the amount of S$100;


2. For consecutive period of 12 months – for the amount of S$2,000.


Although one can easily understand the rationale behind the measure, I always prefer to avoid preventive approaches like this as I’m not totally convinced that restrictions like this are truly beneficial for all relevant stakeholders. I trust, therefore, that this so-called entry levy should be lifted.


In fact, it would be good for the market as a whole to have more local people entering the casino areas as the gross number of clients would consequently increase. Furthermore, it needs to be understood whether those who currently are paying, for instance, S$2,000/year, would spend more time in the casino if the marginal cost of each visit was decreased (and perhaps increase the number of visits the same person would make if the restriction was not in place).


Similar restrictions are also being considered for Japan proposed Integrated Resorts. Governments tend


P62 NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE /MARKET DATA


to consider that restricting its residents or nationals visits the casinos has an effect on preventing gaming addiction. To a certain extent I can agree with the measure, notwithstanding the fact that what is important is to put more weight in the responsible gaming side than in restricting locals from betting in the casinos.


In return, the government could include in the license agreements, entered with Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, more obligations in terms of their contribution to social benefits, which, in the end would revert back to the society.


In an increasingly competitive market in the region, such measures would increase profits and payback in terms of the welfare of the state.


It would also be a good “excuse” for considering additional licenses.


In recent years, the locals in Singapore have allegedly lost interest in the two casino resorts in the city state, avoiding the payment of the entry levy. But has this been, in the end, what was desired by the government? How many locals cross the border or board shipboard casinos? What is the percentage that also try other options, such as illegal gambling?


It is certainly a little sanctimonious as Singaporeans are allowed to bet on horse-racing or in other sports without any entry levy. Te consequences to the society are exactly the same, despite, one may argue, that land-based casinos have increased public exposure.


It is also disputable, although it can certainly be more easily argued and defended, that the system of self- limitation limits the number of visits a gambler can make to the casinos every year.


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