2/18/2010

Time to stop the £$%&* $100 levy

I have so many flowery superlatives to describe this casino entry levy, but again, better to keep it to myself. By now many will know what this levy is all about in the most negative ways. It is anti Singaporeans, anti PRs, anti business, and makes the casino operation and business look so awkward. It keeps away the people that should be in the casino and flood the place with undesirable and unwelcome visitors like foreign workers. And it creates so many unnecessary trivial issues and a lot of work. Best, more Singaporeans will be caught trying to sneak in without paying. The two casino operators are serious business people who have put up billions of dollars upfront. The least that we could do is not to make it difficult and tedious for them to run a proper business. They are prepared to play ball, accept every rule that we impose on them, no matter how inconvenience and nonsensical. They are willing to cooperate with the govt completely, not to trangress or violate any of our sensitivities. We need to give them a break and make the profits they deserved. And in return they are going to provide many jobs and spawn many supporting businesses which are good for our economy and our people. What I would recommend is to scrap the levy for all Singaporeans and PRs except for those that have been excluded for crime and self exclusion orders, and whoever that were excluded for good reasons. We cannot discriminate against our own citizens in our own home. The reason to prevent people from gambling with the levy is plain naïve. How can we open a casino and prevent people from gambling? The people who want to gamble will find places to gamble, away from the two casinos, in Batam or Genting or underground casinos. The levy is nonsense towards this intent. The levy should be applied to foreigners instead, especially those that are not going to be beneficial to the business. This will help to recover some of the revenue loss from Singaporeans and PRs. But not all foreigners need to pay entry levy. The high rollers should be exempted for obvious reasons. For ease of implementation, make use of the credit cards. Foreigners who carry gold or platinum cards should be exempted. A small token of say $30 or $50 should be imposed on those with other credit cards. No credit cards, no entry. Let the ownership of credit cards be the controlling factor for admission. And credit card companies should be warned not to abuse this requirement and issue cards recklessly as credit cards will now be in demand by foreigners. This is good for credit card business too. Whatever revenue loss in levy could be recouped from more patronage and gamblers allowed into the casinos. The revenue for the govt could be more. Applying the levy on foreigners will also allow the current system and equipment for collection of levy to remain in use and not a white elephant to be put away. We have come so far down this road to allow casinos in our shores. Let’s be serious and let the business thrives and grows. This is big business incurring big investments and cannot afford to fail both for the operators and for our economy. The levy requirement is just not conducive for the business. And I am claiming intellectual property rights to these outrageous recommendations that are bound to raise a lot of eyebrows and ruffle feathers. But make no mistake about these, the recommendations are serious, practical and pro business. The levy on Singaporeans is simply dysfunctional and would anger many Singaporeans and PRs. How could we introduced apartheid against our own citizens and think that it is fair and good? 5 already got caught on the first two days of operation. I hope my suggestions will be accepted and the two casino operators should consider paying me a handsome consultation fee for it. And the govt should also pay me a sum double that the casino operators are willing to pay me for telling them to do something they dare not do, that is necessary for the good of the business and to create more employments. Would there be a minister tough enough to admit that my audacious recommendations are what that needs to be done, and to tell the administrators that this is the way to go, and of course to pay me my rightful dues. Of course no one needs to pay me anything as no one is under any contractual agreement to do so.

32 comments:

Jaunty Jabber said...

I agree that the $100 entrance fee to casino should be scrapped.

Why would anyone pay $100 to be in a place that feels like Lucky Plaza and Little India with casino layout?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

The two casinos each worth several billions. Not small money. And if they can't keep the foreign workers away, they are going to look like a paradise of a different kind.

Policy makers better rethink of the formula and prepare to answer to the big investors. There will be image problems as well if they are attracting the wrong crowd.

Can they put up a sign saying no foreign workers allowed? They can't for sure.

Anonymous said...

Either way, removing the levy will create another set of problems, that of feeding the gambling habit that is already afflicting Singaporeans.

Going to Genting is different from having a casino at our doorstep, which you can go to any time, any day. I can foresee the mayhem without the levy.

Anyway, that's a problem for the highly paid masters. No need to crack our heads. Just know.

Anonymous said...

I can sense Mr Chua wants to gamble but loath the idea of paying $100? hehehe

If they allow Singaporean to go in freely and when Singaporeans can and lost their savings, CPF or get themselves into debt or any kind of shit, who are the one responsible for the social problems then? By then you will write an article blaming gahment again. LOL.

There are no perfect systems just like there are no perfect laws but however it doesn't mean we still don't try. This is for the general good of Singaporeans, The cost of going to Batam, Genting, Macau or Perth to gamble is much higher than $100. If they are willing to spend money to go, they wouldnt mind to pay $100. That is the idea behind the levy.

For those who wouldn't go to pay money to go to other countries to gamble, they better don't. The casino is by no means here to convert every Singaporeans to become gamblers. Though I must also say that it is not fair for Singaporeans to pay $100 if you look at it from a leisure angle. However if you look at it from an universal angle, which is the social problems faced by cities with casinos(i assume you had), you gotta thank the gahment for at least trying, to curb it.

Nothing is perfect. Put yourself in the gahment shoes, what would you do to juggle the act?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Out it this way, my budget for gambling in a casino is $200. Why would I want to pay the casino $100 first and left with $100 and trying to win back $100 to break even? It does not make sense for me to go to the casino. I might as well spend the money in my club's jackpot machine.

The problem now is that the operator would have to deal with foreign workers crowding the gamblers out of the casino. It means a lot of business being loss because of the unwanted guests.

Singaporeans are gambling daily with toto, 4 d, football, horse racing and the underground gambling dens. Does it make any difference?

soojenn said...

It is a wonder.. could have been MBT who thought of this levy.. after all he i famous for milking Singaporeans, from the ERP to the HDB..

Just wonder the type of biz mind the PAP govt has, open a casino on shore and then tax its own citizens to enter. Well, this is not the first time they are making such biz decisions. Look at Temasek, who they hire to run shop, a technocrat? with no biz sense, let alone financial exposure outside of Singapore, with devasting results - losing of billions fo taxpayers money.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi soojenn, welcome to the blog.

I am wondering what the operators will be thinking if the foreign workers are going to park themselves there every weekend and holidays and block out the gamblers. What if they start to run at a loss?

Anonymous said...

The trouble with Temasek is they still think that that technocrat is the best there was, the best there is, and the best there will be.

And the trouble with Temasek is they still think the losses are well explained away with 'long term horizons' that do not seem that long, if recent actions they take are any guide.

Singaporeans believe when mantras are chanted often enough.

Anonymous said...

What happens if they run at a loss?

No problem, the Government will take over and sell each Singaporean a piece of the 'crown jewel'.

We are becoming billionaires soon.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Below is an extract of an article from the media, I think reported in the ST. Correct me if I am wrong. What we have is a Chinese professor lecturing us on how to do biz. I am not sure if he got his numbers correct for he said 9 out of 10 biz were failures. That is something I find unbelieveable.

'In a recent speech made at the Civil Service College, Beijing-born Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) political economist Professor Huang Yasheng urged Singapore to “rethink” the “Temasek model” and warns that Singapore’s state management model has “milked this system for all it is worth.”
“The private sector is the best way to grow the economy. It has the most productive, most innovative and entrepreneurial culture. The state-owned enterprise system doesn’t give you that….You are already hitting the wall. Retaining this strategy could mean sacrificing future growth that is possible only through a bigger, more dynamic private sector,” he said.

Prof Huang felt that governments should not get involved in venture financing as they are using taxpayers’ monies and questions how the government can defend its decisions to invest in “failing individuals and projects”:

“Nine out of 10 investment projects fail. Does the government have such a high tolerance for risk? It’s taxpayers’ money, right? I don’t think, politically, it’s legitimate for the government to keep investing in failing individuals and failing projects. How do you defend these decisions?,” he asked.

Robert Tan said...

I am not an expert in venture capital investments. Based on what I understand, it is a niche/specialised investment field.

1. There are probably certain investment manager who are more "specialised in this area" and investors make use of their services, eg: venture capital funds.

2. Most investors will probably have strict investment limits such that the portion of their assets invested in venture capital will be restricted to reasonable amounts and this amount usually forms a fairly small proportion of their total investments/assets.

3. It's probably true that the chances of success in individual projects are significantly less than the "normal" investments in established business. However, investors usually mitigate such risks by investing in a diverse number of start-ups/projects to increase the chances that one of the start-ups/projects will succeed. In certain cases, a success can potentially be a "goldmine". One needs to look at the overall returns over a more extended timeframe to have a more meaningful conclusion as to whether such investments have been worthwhile.

4. I believe that there are also various stages to the development of a start-up business, from the conception of an idea, to research to testings, to development, to funding, to further research and fine tuning, to marketing etc. When one says there is 9 out of 10 chances of failure, it depends on which stage the venture capitalist comes in. This stage will determine the quantum of funds required and also, the probability of success.

The above are just some thoughts. Some ventures will results in losses to the investor, some will bring positive returns. Some losses can be significant, some gains can also be humongous. Such investments definitely are amongst the higher risk type of investment but as long as the risks are properly managed and the investment exposure is properly controlled, in can also prove to be lucrative. But for most of lay persons, it's probably best left to the "experts".

Anonymous said...

I see your point. You are talking from the positin of a gambler. Very valid points there, no doubt at all.

But like I say, the gahment has to look at the whole issue from a national angle.

You are dicipline. You can walk away after $200. But how many people can do that? I am an ex gambler myself and I know that it can be very hard to stop gamble. Why? Because when you lose, you want to chase back your loss but when you win, you are feeling high and want to continue. It's this reason that most people end up losing more and more, even their wealth. The thing is one can lose more than his wealth. In some cases, their family, friends, job and even extreme cases, their life.

Gambling can be fun but unfortunately it can be very fatal.

Casino want to make money but like I said, it is not there to 'convert everyone'. It cannot make it easy for there can be extreme social impact.

So whose money they want to earn? Right you can't stop people completely. Those who has the money to throw, those who will even fly all the way to macau to gamble, foreigners who want to go for a holiday with gambling facilities, these are the targetted audience.

Don't worry about operator having to deal with foreign workers for they are here for a reason(work and send money home for most), so if they choose to be stupid, so be it. At the end of the day, it's the Singaporean community that the gahment should take care of. The gahment take care of foreigners for what? It's non consequence to our society.

Toto 4D and football, horse are different types of gambling. Because you cannot gamble as and when you want. Everyweek it only ran once or twice(thrice for 4D). So that itself has a mechanism where it can stop the adrenalin pumping. In casino, it's 24 hours non stop. One can literally lose his wealth overnight if he is not careful. I mean when do you stop?

The $100 is to make people like you to think, as long it can deter you to think it is "bo hua" then it meets its objective. At the end of the day, implementing $100 is not to make gamblers tu lan but to discourage them from gambling. You and I know that this is only for our own good.

Look deeper, those hardcore will find this $100 nothing. But those who are not gamblers will be refrained from going in due to the "bohua-ness"(not worthy).

Casino won't run at a loss. Just like tobacco company also won't run at a loss. These are vices. People are attracted to vices by nature. That is what human are 'programmed' to do. But, even so, we must make it a little harder for people to be sucked into the hole.

At the end of the day, $100 is really nothing if you relish a little adrenalin pump but it should serve as a good deterent to make people 'not go there' too often.

Wally Buffet said...

True gamblers will not quibble over the peanutty 100 bucks. It's only the "xiao qi gui" who makes such a mountain out of a molehill, so I think the levy should stay. The two IRs want to attract the first not the second type who can't even part with a miserly 100 bucks.

The problem of all those foreign blue collar workers flooding their casinos is something which they should have forseen but didn't have the foresight to brainstorm on.

In a move to discourage gambling amongst those that really can't afford to lose, ie the foreign workers,blue collar as well as the fake professionals, the government should also impose a levy of S$200 on them. This way, we kill two birds with one stone. Discourage gambling by such people and show some favouritism to locals with only half the levy.

Hehe.

Robert Tan said...

Thanks Anonymous 9.13pm for sharing your thoughts on the potential negative effects of gambling, especially casino type gambling.

I think that the points you made are valid and is a sober reminder of the risks involved in gambling. For those of us who tend to have less discipline and self restraint, it's probably best to avoid the casinos completely - the difficulty is that sometimes, we may not know where our own limits are....

Jetreroy said...

Actually it makes perfect sense to maintain status quo. Perhaps our elites will then understand what it means to be surrounded by FTs.

Anonymous said...

Gambling is bad. We built casino not because we want to encourage people to pick up gambling.

We have casino because we need to compete in the tourism industry and if so we definitely need to 'offer tourists the market value' lest you people rather go to ulu places like genting.

There are benefits but in the big picture. The small picture is that some people(Singaporeans) are going to be get hurt by it. The government can only do so much. Not having casino in Singapore forever is also not the solution. You have to move with times. Otherwise you end up like those places in middle east where they ban mobile phone coz of the camera which they see as a form of privacy intrusion. Even you look at china, they banned facebook and youtube because they have a big population and they think that is the best way to control their population. But there are benefits which they had overlooked, which could be very important in certain aspects.

For those who have never gambled before, don't pick up the hobby. You are guarantee a WIN already if you don't step into a casino because the money is in your pocket. If you want to try for fun, go ahead but rest assure that most hard core gamblers started this way and got addicted to it. As far the stats are concerned, unless you cheat, you can't win the long run. You will lose back whatever you won at first and you will basically 'donate' to their organisation.

Don't pick up gambling. This is one thing you will never ever regret not doing. Spend your time doing other things which also can give you a good time but minus the harm it can cause you.

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Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

The most interesting point is raised by Jetreroy. Worth pondering.

Yes, the $100 is not going to be effective to deter gamblers. For those who would not part with $100, they are by nature prudent and careful. So with or without the levy, they are not going to throw all their money in. So the $100 is not going to deter the gambler or affect the xiao qi qui: )

But it is going be a big headache for the operators to deal with the crowd that they don't want.

Ok, our govt is very caring and protecting our citizens from gambling. We don't care if the foreign workers gamble themselves to death.

Tomorrow we may have human rights protestors for not caring for these workers' welfare. And China and India may send protest letters for ruining the lives and income of their citizens: )

Anonymous said...

surely life aint no zero sum game. so don even try play it.

Preston said...

I disagree with your solution to implement access into the casinos via credit card "status". Credit cards are of the negative value to begin with and i wouldn't encourage people to start spending more than what they can afford!

However the levy should be lowered to $50 as cover charges.

It would be better to have a deposit system where by upon entering the casinos patrons must leave a deposit of $100 instead as "insurance". Hey, atleast when they lose it all in there they still would have cab money to head back home!!

Jaunty Jabber said...

What I feel about the $100 levy is that the authority think its people cannot discipline themselves and only money can work to help discipline them. Some experts calculated that $100 is the right sum to discipline the people well. And those who needed such discipline are those who will feel the pinch with $100.

Formal education, moral education, public education, campaign might not work so well to discipline the people but $100 can.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Preston, welcome to the blog.

My suggestion is not meant to be the only workable model. There are many ways and you have suggested one.

If we have decided to go the casino way and made the operators commit billions of dollars out front, let's make it work. This is no masak masak for children. Big money is involved and many jobs and careers too.

We cannot keep thinking of protecting 4m never grown up and unthinking and irresponsible adults. Leave that to the individuals and their papas and mamas to worry about.

There are already a lot of safeguards to keep the problem under control. The levy is a very negative instrument and even looks silly when the foreign workers and maids are striding in and out freely while our citizens have to pay to get in.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

I like your reasoning Jaunty. I will meditate on it, or pray on it.

Jaunty Jabber said...

So far money rule us very well.

Traffic jam? COE and ERP implemented.
Littering? Heavy fines implemented.
Falling Birth Rates? Baby Bonus implemented.

Some examples only.

Jaunty Jabber said...

Oh, having said that, maybe the casinos will implement a new levy collection to manage the influx of foreign workers.

S$100.00 entrance fee payable if you are a Singaporean / PR / Employment Pass Holder / Work Permit Holder.

Anonymous said...

Why worry? The casino operators are paying for the free meals.

Who pockets the levy, by the way?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Good idea Jaunty. Erect ERPs at the entrance of the casinos. This one all pays, including foreigners. This will regulate the human traffic.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the use of foreign workers to boost the crowd numbers is one of the advertising ploy.

Otherwise might end up with a whimper, a sigh and santa maria.

ObserverOne said...

Dear All,

It is very clear to me now how far the gap between policy maker and people in general.

Pardon me, but deep in my heart, it is my hope that casino project fails ASAP.

The person who have agreed to gamble away singapore's future by taking an easy way out in doing his homework is liable to account for it. Please... he has to be reminded about his wrongdoing soon, as it is NOT only about him, but about Singapore Future.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Singaporeans are themselves to be blamed if they allow anyone to sell out their country. If they just keep quiet and hope that everything will be ok, by the time they woke up they may be too deep in the shit hole.

They must know that this land belongs to every one of them. Only when they understood what is ownership would they take effort to take care of it. If they think it is no man's land they would not bother what is happening to it.

They will simply say, not my business.

Anonymous said...

Funny, i prefer a new owner over this land.

Will it happen ???

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

One joker justified that Singaporeans should pay the $100 levy to enjoy the cleanliness of the casino and the smoke free casino. What a joke!

He really believes that if we don't pay the levy, then the conditions of Resort World will be like Genting Highland.