Thursday, January 31, 2008

Singapore Casinos Worry about Cheating

Singapore Casinos are not even up yet, though two of them are slated for a 2009 opening. Due to the recent stories about widespread cheating and corruption in Macau's casinos, Singapore is now feeling the "Asian cheating pinch." Last April I spoke at the 2007 Asian Casinos Executive Summit. Naturally my platform was cheating, and as a new casino and gambling territory, many of Singapore's casino regulatory officials were in attendance and quite attentive to what I was saying. Some asked me privately for my opinion about how vulnerable their casinos would be to cheaters. "Well," I responded, "isn't this where thieves and criminals get flogged in public?" They looked at me funnily and one said, "Yes, if you're talking about a half dozen or so strokes of the dreaded "ratan." Which, if you don't get it, is the whip. Remember Michael Fay? He's was the young American in '94 who got a half dozen whips or slashes for vandalism and mischief. In fact, while I was in Singapore last year, I did get enthralled by my conversations with native Singaporeans about the public floggings. They told me about it so distinctly that at times even the conversations hurt! Stuff about not being able to sit on your butt for months. Dire pain when sitting on the toilet bowl, etc., etc.

But after the flogging exchange talk with the casino regulators, who told me that harsher penalties would be in store for casino cheaters and thieves (although short of the Muslim tradition of cutting off hands!), I told them candidly that whenever a major new casino territory opens, the cheaters flock together like birds of a feather. In other words, the two new giant Singaporean casinos will get hit hard. They seemed to be taken a bit aback (pardon the tongue twister) by this, and before leaving I handed each one my casino game protection consulting business card. I imagine I will be hearing from them shortly.

Here's an article about these cheating concerns:


SINGAPORE (AFP) — Asia's casinos need strong internal controls and surveillance to guard against organised efforts to cheat them, a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board said Wednesday.

While Las Vegas once had a reputation for mafia infiltration, Randall Sayre told reporters that those now attempting to cheat its casinos "are not necessarily connected to traditional organised crime as one would anticipate."

He said "smaller groups that are very adept at cheating techniques" are attempting to compromise the casinos' controls, and gaming operations anywhere are vulnerable.

"It can be organised crime or it can be organised groups that conduct criminal activities," he said after addressing the Interpol Global Conference on Asian Organised Crime.

"So you've got to have strong internal controls and you've got to have strong surveillance."

Gaming receipts from the southern Chinese enclave of Macau, where casinos have burgeoned in the last few years, last year overtook revenues pulled in by the 40 gaming centres along Las Vegas' famous Strip.

Recent official figures in the former Portuguese colony said Macau had 28 casinos last year.

Among the three Nevada operators with major Macau operations is Las Vegas Sands, which is also building a multibillion-dollar casino development in Singapore.

According to a survey of industry executives polled by the South China Morning Post newspaper and reported last month, illegal under-the-table betting is depriving Macau casinos of up to 50 percent of all gambling revenues.

Sayre said his agency had close cooperation with both Macau and Singapore, which has sent its agents to Nevada to gain a better understanding of procedures there.

The first of two casinos in Singapore is to open in 2009.

Sayre said his message to the conference organised by the global police agency Interpol was that, "no matter where you're... located in the world, if you have legalised gambling you will be a target for the infiltration."

He said the problem of loan sharking outside casinos themselves was also "an issue on everybody's radar screen."

Singapore officials said they were aware of the threats posed by casinos.

"This industry has traditionally been associated with organised crime and sleaze, and there would surely be criminal elements who would try to exploit this," Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee told the gathering of law enforcers from around the world.

Singapore Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui told reporters that organised crime was not "physically present" in the city-state -- one of Asia's safest cities -- but police were ready for the worst.

"Just to assure you that we are well prepared," he said.