Officers of the Casino Regulatory Authority,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
2010 is a landmark year for Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA). It marks the opening of the two casinos in Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Marina Bay Sands (MBS).
CRA’s preparations leading to casino openings
2. The opening of the two casinos on 14 February 2010 for RWS and 27 April 2010 for MBS was generally smooth. This was the result of extensive preparations by CRA and other agencies to ensure that the necessary systems were in place pre-opening, and that operational issues and challenges were dealt with efficiently and effectively.
3. The Casino Control Act (CCA) spells out the key objectives of CRA which are to: (a)keep crime out of the casino, (b) ensure honest gaming, and (c) contain the potential for harm to minors, vulnerable persons and society at large. It was developed based on international best practices, close consultation among government agencies and feedback from the industry. Supporting the CCA are comprehensive regulatory requirements for casino management and operations, in areas such as surveillance standards, measures to prevent money-laundering, technical standards for gaming machines, and rules governing the games played in the casinos.
4. To implement and enforce the CCA, CRA has trained and prepared a pool of more than 100 officers to deal with the complexities of casino regulation. This include sending officers on overseas attachments with inspectors in established jurisdictions to gain hands-on experience, and on various efforts to study the best practices of regulatory authorities. CRA has also actively participated in the international community of gambling regulators, like the International Association of Gaming Regulators and the Australasian Casino and Gaming Regulators. This has allowed CRA to tap on the expertise of experienced casino regulators and learn from international best practices.
5. These preparations have helped CRA during the lead-up to the casino openings, where extensive suitability investigations on the casino operators and their associates were required, and where large amounts of regulatory assessments (e.g. for surveillance and entry levy systems) were needed. Within about 6 to 8 months, CRA assessed applications for more than 2,600 Electronic Gaming Machines, 40 types of Gaming equipment and more than 6,500 Special Employee Licences for casino employees deployed in gaming-related functions in the two casinos.
Post –opening challenges
6. Suitability checks on the casino operators and their associates, licensing of special employees are on-going processes as both casino operators continue to do business, expand and hire more staff.
7. CRA will continue to work closely with Home Team agencies like Police to tackle and pre-empt crime-related issues at the casinos. Prior to the openings, Police had already issued exclusion orders to bar undesirable elements from entering the casinos. Police’s Casino Crime Investigation Branch (CCIB) continues to work with the CRA and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to ensure that criminals and offenders are duly punished. A strong deterrent message has been, will be and will continue to be sent out to persons and crime syndicates, local or foreign, contemplating using the casinos as venues for their illicit activities.
8. Beyond this, the larger challenge, not just for CRA, but for all of us, members of the public and IR operators included, is to ensure Singapore retains its reputation for being clean, well-regulated and crime-free. This is one of our key competitive advantages.
9. How we achieve this will be a combination of continued collaboration, sustained vigilance, and responsive reviews of our systems and frameworks. CRA must regularly keep abreast of developments and take stock of what has worked, and what needs to be improved to enhance the regulatory regime. In this regard, it is timely for CRA to explore reviewing and fine-tuning its regulatory framework and practices in light of its recent experiences. This will help CRA to ensure that it stays relevant, nimble and on top of any challenges that may come its way.
10. We have come some way since the concept of the IRs was first discussed close to half a decade ago. Today, CRA and all who have made the IRs possible can be understandably proud of their achievements. However, the opening of the IRs and the casinos is really only the beginning of a very long journey. We must remember that even as we walk with Singapore into a new chapter of its history, we must ensure that our fundamentals, our safety, law, order and security, remain sound. Only then will we be in good stead to tackle the challenges in the road ahead and emerge the better for it.
On this note, I wish you a fruitful and engaging seminar.