Tag Archive | levy

Good bye Marina Bay Sands, hello savings!

Sunday, Jan 6, was a good friend’s 52nd birthday. I usually remember it but since her 50th in 2011, I have more reason to remember !

Because it was immediately after her 50th birthday lunch that I signed up for an anual pass to Marina Bay Sands, spending a cool $2,000 levy to buy myself an unlimited number of visits to the MBS casino 🙄

Yet I didn’t max out my full quota as I found out the other day when cleaning out one of the small purses in my handbag.

I stopped going to MBS from Sep 6, 2011! This was based on two cash-out tickets that I had allowed to expire — OK, one for all of 4 cents but the other was more substantial at $12+.

Reason: believe it or not, it was due to my being upgraded to a Gold Card membership. From where, it was all the way downhill.

I first did mental jigs of joy with the upgrading. As I got to eat at the Ruby Room in the Gold Members’ level as well as got to drink free wine. All detailed here.

But like all good things, there’s a downside and none so obvious as a continuing losing streak — not just at the machines in the Ruby Room’s premises but also at the machines among the hoi polloi downstairs. This despite the fact that among the hoi polloi downstairs, the bets were far smaller than in the Ruby Room.

Did my “luck” change? Or did I lose because some unseen computer was calculating my input and making sure that the sums would nudge me to the tables manned by humans or nudge me to pour more $ in?

OK, I’m not alleging that the MBS computers program players to lose but having played Bejewelled2 on and off, I’m always curious how I’m always able to get thru the first level but not beyond? Is it because Level 1 is easier, the odds better? Or is it to tempt players to go on?

In my MBS experience, be4 I became a gold card member I was at worst more or less even, not counting my entrance levy that G imposes on all Singaporeans n PRs.

At one point I was even confident I should make enough to cover my carpark fees — redeeming it with my play points — and win enough for the next annual fee. That confidence soon went down the ka-chink of the visits subsequent to my “upgrade” to the rarefied atmosphere of the Ruby Room.

Were the free food and wine (I liked the buffet and the free flow of wine, tho I never ate or drank a lot but being a true-blue Singaporean a free-feed always tastes better in the mind, anyway) not already paid for several times over at the end of the day when I lose $50, $100 or horrors $300+?

So as I lost more, my ardour for the MBS casino cooled distinctly — because I saw no point in a relationship that made me unhappy at the end of every visit and apprehensive at the start of another.

Quite different prior to June when the 1st few months after I signed up went like a dream. I looked forward to every visit confident that I would win something or, at worse, break even.

As a value-minded customer, I didn’t see why I should spend good money only to be made unhappy, repeatedly.

I stopped going.

MBS didn’t stop trying to get me to visit again. I got all sorts of promotional letters about shopping and shows which didn’t interest me since I didn’t go to the integrated resort to shop or view shows in the first instance.

MBS tried to lure me with reminders that points I had built up were about to expire. Well, I did go back once with some friends — to use up the free parking perks but none of us bothered even to go near the casino.

If every local resident player at MBS is like me, then G has no need to worry about raising the entry levy. Because by making us losers, MBS provides the natural and most effective barrier 😆

Postscript: I probably went to MBS no more than 40 times in 2010, so the per entry levy worked out to about $50 on average. I also probably suffered a total net loss of $5K to $7K.

Not a huge sum in absolute terms but priceless for turning me off gambling at the casino — at least on this side of SG.

I’ve never been to Resorts World Sentosa, not for lack of lures. As a Genting shareholder, I was intially offered perks to sign up as a casino member. But I didn’t bite.

Even if I do eventually, it’s unlikely that I will want to spend as much time and money on something that I already know is a dead loss!


I went to Resorts World Sentosa…

.. over two days last week, stayed for 10 hours the first day, six hours the second, and guess what? I didn’t  step into the casino even though signs everywhere indicated it was just a short stroll away.

So why the heck did I go to Resorts World Sentosa if I wasn’t headed for the casino?

Believe it or not, if I had wanted to go to a casino, I would have gone to Marina Bay Sands, for which I’ve already paid my $2k of levy for one year. Why would I want to pay more levy $ to enter another casino?

The reason I went to RWS was to nosey a bit at a 2-day conference organised by a friend who kindly invited me to check it out. The only caveat: don’t come after the VIPs which meant I was expected to present myself well be4 kick off time.

For a normally late riser like me, it was sure and sheer agony. The first day, two fellow non-VIP participants gave me a lift, as I’d not been to RWS since it started receiving visitors, might have got well and truly lost and turned up after the VIPs — which won’t be a good thing for the organisers!

The following day, I drove there myself but because the direction-signs sucked real bad I found myself making two rounds of the resort be4 finding the carpark meant for conference participants and ended up just a few steps ahead of the 2nd day’s VIPs.

Still, the conference amenities were impressive enough, especially the washrooms. And there was a feeling of solidness everywhere I went.

Yet I was glad to call it a day when the conference closing lunch ended at 3pm. This despite another friend working with the organisers suggesting that I spend the rest of the afternoon at the casino since I was already there, with complimentary carparking to boot.

No way! I go to a casino only when I’m well rested and in the right frame of mind. I plan my visits to MBS as carefully as if I were going into battle, even if most times, I hit and run.

Sleep-deprived and mind swamped by too much intellectual discussions apres the conference would be a sure formula for gambling disaster.  Also, I certainly wasn’t going to pay $100 and stay just two or three hours, right?

So I gave Resort World’s casino a miss and will continue to do so, until the validity of my 12-month pass to MBS expires — or until some kind soul presents me with a RWS membership. I can always dream on, no? 😆

Winning slot machines @ Marina Bay Sands

People who know I’ve been going to the Marina Bay Sands casino religiously in order to make the $2K levy I paid for 12 months worthwhile, have asked what are my favourite machines.

I flippantly reply that my favourite slots are those that let me walk away with winnings.

Seriously though, I’ve walked away with more pluses than minuses overall on average but no single day’s win adds up to anything significant, unlike one retired banker who made $40K on her first visit, or so I was told by a mutual friend.

The reason is that I don’t gamble big.

I look for machines that let me invest no more than 50 cents per gamble and yet cover all the bases. And there aren’t that many machines in this category in the pantheon of 1,600 slots that MBS boasts of.

Sure there are 1-cent, 2-cent machines aplenty but many of them start with minmum gambles of 100 bets or more — which doesn’t suit my purse at all.

Still, I managed to have luck with the Butterfly Kisses machine situated below a yellow open top car — it’s a prize, I think, tho it’s been there in the whole year I’ve been visiting, so either no one has won or it’s just an indicative prize — on the casino’s non-smoking floor.

Although it’s a five-cent machine, I always confine myself to just 10 bets. The result? I must say it’s not a bad payor!

Another favourite is the Super Jackpot Party machine which costs just 40 cents to cover all bases. But there are only two such machines that I know of and most time, they are occupied. Another “but” is that there’s some predictability in their “yields”.

After a while the player ie me will notice that there’s a certain cycle of pay-out followed by a long dry period. The bottom line is that if one hangs around this slot too long, the player will end up losing.

The same could be said of most of the other slots, so the mantra is ‘harvest, harvest, hit and run.”

This said, there is one exception where I’m concerned. I’m referring to a group of four slots whose paylines are based on the heroes of the Three Kingdom who appear as “wilds”. They are situated next to one slot based on Ms Piggy. All are in a row on the left hand side on the non-smoking floor, if one entered the casino from the street-level entrance.

my latest MBS harvest

I’m happy to report that I’ve always been able to walk away with something whenever I play these slots, though until yesterday I’ve never been sure how much winnings were yielded by the Three Kingdom machines, as I skipped here and there all over the casino, trying out this or that machine, within my self-imposed budget.

However because of time constraint yesterday, I could only sample these four machines, spending about two hours in all on them.

And I walked away with more than $535 which after deducting the $100 cashout ticket I started with — leftover from a previous visit — I had won $435! 😀

The only trouble with the 3 Kingdom slots is that they don’t seem to reward “points” as generously as other more cash-guzzling slots.

So if one were collecting points in the hope of moving up to the next level of MBS Premier Advantage membership or to redeem car parking charges or both, then these slots aren’t going to give the player the desired points.

Still, a quick calculation tells me that if my winnings from these slots could more than cover the $24 car parking charge — if one were to stay long, long — then playing 3 Kingdoms may be more worthwhile than playing others! 😆

Pay Singaporeans & PRs to stay out of casinos!

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?

Tapping casinos to fund tax perks?

Judging by all the yada-daing of tax experts and men on the street, everyone and his uncle (and auntie) are expecting Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam to be delivering an early (for 2011 anyway) Santa Claus Budget 2011 when Parliament sits on Friday.

We want tax cuts, more offsets, higher reliefs, larger grants and top-ups. Money, money, we just want all the money the Government can spare — and even what it can’t.

So where can poor Mr Tharman look to for help to meet these expectations, if not demands? No reason at all to tap on past reserves this time round.

But never fear. As a member of the PAP-loving electorate, Auntie here has a couple of no-brainer suggestions.

Look to the two Integrated Resorts aka Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands to spit out the necessary cash.

Actually, let me rephrase that. Not so much the IRs but Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners who aren’t PRs but live and work here.

Here is how some of the additional funding can be raised

  • Sweep all foreigners living and/or working/studying in Singapore into the levy trap. If casino-going Singaporeans and PRs could yield $130 million in levy within 9 months, then including foreigners resident here might notionally bring the levy tally closer to $200 million! Full-year the tally may be closer to $300 million. Money aside, including the foreign workers will proactively stem a potential social problem while waiting for them to voluntarily exclude themselves is like waiting for Godot!
  • Raise the annual levy for those who want to pay upfront from $2K to $5K. For those who die-die must go to the casino every day, it’s still a steal, while the current $2K for one year’s worth of entry is a screaming bargain not to be missed with its imputed value of $35,000!
  • Mr Tharman may also want to consider tapping the curious but unwilling to pay the $100 levy by halving it. That way, more Singaporeans, PRs and foreign workers could be willing to pay the levy to satisfy their curiousity. Such reduction will give some balm to those who continue choose to pay the higher annual levy even though it would take 100 visits to break even, compared to just 20 currently. Also, halving the levy might — ironically — have a deterrent effect on those now attracted by the perceived value of the annual package but aren’t hard core gamblers. This is because even if the levy is halved, the break even point would be so much higher. One just may not have the time to make full use of the benefit!

All right, I’ve placed my bets on what Mr Tharman should do. Let’s see if any of my suggestions hit jackpot in the Budget!

Arithmetics and the casino

When i paid the $2,000 per annum entry levy for the Marina Bay Sands Casino on Jan 2, I knew I must visit more than 12 times to make the sums work for paying the levy in advance, instead of paying $100 each time I visit.

Also, apart from the upfront payment, I have given up the flexibility of visiting the casino fewer than 12 times during the next 12 months. Because if I go fewer than 12 times, I would in effect be paying more than the government mandated $100 per day levy.

However, I know for sure that I would visit MBS more than 12 times in 2011. I intend to anyway.

Where is the break even point for me? I guess 24 times should do it for me, or two visit a month. That means I would be paying a $50 per visit levy.

Still, that would depend a lot on whether my luck holds out on most of the visits.

If I lose more money than I win, then I may not visit as often as twice a month. On the other hand, if I win more than I lose, then I may even make more than 24 visits.

Stay tune on this blog for more about whether the sums work out for me at MBS!

Update on Auntie Lucia’s MBS jousts

Magician most kind

Ever since I bought myself a one-year entry pass to the Marina Bay Sands casino on Jan 2, after Z’s Big 50 Bash, I’ve been to the casino four times, including Jan 2. The other times I visited are Jan 7, 17 and today, Jan 26.

I’m more convinced than ever that I did the right thing, in terms of enjoyment from the visit as well as being able to gamble wisely, without over tiring myself — as had been the case on the first four occasions when I paid $100 per entry.

For that amount and limited to only a 24-hour entry, I hung on and on, till I was dog tired. Sure, I didn’t really lose much money, if at all, if the levy fees were ignored. For sure, I had clear cut winnings too — on Dec 23 whenI booked myself an early X’mas present from MBS’ coffers.

However, starting from Jan 2, every visit save the first, when i lost some $330 (excluding the levy), I’ve managed to come out on the plus side.

On Jan 7, I came away with handsome winnings; on Jan 17, I’m not entirely sure but leaving with a $90 cash out ticket that day, and all that I had lost having come from winnings from the Jan 7 wins, I guess I must have broken even.

Today, I left the casino after about a 4-hour joust with various slot machines with a cash-out ticket of $230. I had started the day with the Jan 17 $90 cash out ticket and didn’t have to dip into any money from my wallet.

That means I’m up $140 on the day; that’s why I sang all the way home to dinner.

Oh yes, for those who are looking for some successful jousts at MBS, the machines which were kind to me today included Butterfly Kisses, Jackpot Party and Magician (I think).

And oh yes, never bet more than one bet per line. That may explain my longevity to date at MBS 😉

And oh yes, oh yes, I got $16 worth of free parking (could have got my full value of $26 if I stayed longer, but I believe in the adage to get going when the winning is good!). Also, I’m another 5 points closer to having my Premier Advantage membership upgraded. Just a mere 303 points to go, LOL!

wins from 8th visit