Messrs Lim Boon Heng, George Yeo and Goh Chok Tong have all touched on the subject in the last few days.
All about their mea culpas in letting the casinos aka integrated resorts into Singapore; explaining that choosing between gambling and high unemployment, the chips came down on stemming joblessness by creating jobs.
OK, I buy that argument. Actually I don’t fuss about having casinos in Singapore. Neither did I miss them when they weren’t here.
Now that big wigs from the PAP cabinet involved in the collective decision to say “yes” tp casinos are re-visiting the subject with a vengeance, it looks like gambling and casinos are going to become a hot election issue, even as the Opposition are going to talk ministers salaries, Mas Selamat’s escape, expensive housing, the flood of foreign talent, the flooding from rain et al.
And as the big wigs hammer away on the subject, I fear truly that as a sweetener to those on the ground soured by the casinos, the PAP may make an election promise to up the preventive $100 per day entry slapped on Singaporeans and permanent residents.
If that happens, remember what I said here.
Still rather than get angry with the PAP if it raises the levy, I think a better approach would be to suggest another way to tackle gambling problems and dissuade Singaporeans and PRs, especially those who can’t afford it, to stay away from the casinos.
And here are my suggestions:
- Pay citizens and PRs to stay away from the casinos. Give each who signs up to be excluded a $200 hongbao per year.
- Pay all work permit holders who sign up for exclusion a $50 hongbao. As this group isn’t covered by the levy, too many have been lured to visit. It is Singapore’s social responsibility to these workers — who man for man would be poorer than the average poor Singaporean — to help them stay away.
- Those who take the hongbao to exclude themselves would have to repay the hongbaos at triple the amount if they sneak into the casinos.
So instead of just hammering away with draconian levies, the Government could take such more creative approaches that may be just as, if not more, effective than hitting the gambler’s pockets
Of course, such hongbaos would mean the Government having to disgorge some of the levy collected from Sgreans and PRs.
Of course, they would also benefit those who would never step into a casino, out of religious or other high-minded principles.
But surely both implications are small beer compared to the hundreds, if not thousands, of residents who will be saved from the dens of gambling iniquities!
Right, Messrs Goh, Yeo and Lim?