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Singaporeans spend over S$1b in casino entrance fees

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Higher entrance levies haven't stopped rich Singaporeans or those just feeling lucky from flocking to the country's only two casinos.

[SINGAPORE] Higher entrance levies haven't stopped rich Singaporeans or those just feeling lucky from flocking to the country's only two casinos.

The city-state has received about S$1.3 billion in entrance fees from citizens and permanent residents since 2010 even as tourists are allowed to enter for free, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said in response to a question in parliament on Monday.

Levies for Singaporeans and permanent residents to enter either Resorts World Sentosa or the more glitzy Marina Bay Sands were raised to S$150 a day, or S$3,000 a year, last month. That's up from S$100 and S$2,000. Singapore initially introduced the charges to deter locals from gambling.

"The daily and annual entry levies serve to deter casual and impulse gambling by locals and are part of a holistic suite of social safeguards," Ms Teo said. "Between 2010 and 2018, the number of local visitors to the casinos declined by 50 per cent."

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Singapore said last month it would extend the exclusive licenses for the two casino operators until 2030 after they pledged to invest S$9 billion in additional tourism attractions. Las Vegas Sands Corp's Singapore venture will build a fourth tower at Marina Bay Sands plus a new entertainment arena, while Genting Singapore's Resorts World will construct two new theme zones and enlarge its aquarium.

As part of the expansion, the duo will pay around S$2.3 billion for extra land, the New Paper reported, citing Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat.

The S$1.3 billion collected will go to the Tote Board, a government body that funds social and community programmes. 

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