I knew it was too good to be true. Right after casino gambling was legalized in Singapore, the powers that be happily decided to slap a S$100 entrance fee on all Singaporeans and PRs. This means that while their neighbours in JB can drive across the causeway and waltz into the casinos without spending a cent, Singaporeans will lose S$100 even before placing a single bet. The explicit purpose of the entrance fees is to discourage problem gambling, and effectively let the casinos earn tourists’ money while leaving Singaporeans untouched.
At first I thought it would be dumb to pay S$100 just to step into a casino. It’s not nice to start gambling with the sinking feeling that you’ve already lost money.
But if you look at it from another angle, a weekend in Genting Highlands costs about S$100 as well, plus you have to endure the long drive there and back. The Singapore IR casino is probably nicer than the Genting casino anyway, so you get better value for money. A weekend in Macau costs a few hundred at least, so entrance fee notwithstanding the Singapore IR is still the cheaper option.
On the other hand, S$100 does not buy you a weekend in a hotel and access to the casino all weekend. It buys you entry into an Integrated Resorts casino on that day only. So you are probably paying S$100 for at most (at least for regular people; the truly hardcore who can sacrifice sleep can probably stay inside for 24-48 hours) 12 hours of casino time.
Cost comparison: Alternatives to spending that S$100
So what are your options? Let’s take a look at how far your money can go (values are approximate and adjusted for people based in Singapore).
Under S$50 – Long Jie/Royale Star/Leisure World cruise. Depending on which ship you’re on, you may be able to get away with paying only $10 for entry if you change a certain amount into rolling chips. Disadvantages include an unglamorous environment, bad food, lengthy travelling time (about 2 hours each way), sitting on bumpy ferries and having to change boats.
S$100 – 1 day at a Singapore Integrated Resort casino. Luxurious, new and surrounded by lots of other facilities. Downside: one day only, once you leave there’s no going back. This brings with it a whole host of other disadvantages–for instance, gamblers will be more compelled to try to win their money back even if their gambling luck sucks because they’d have to pay another S$100 to come back another day.
S$100 – 3 days 2 nights in Genting Highlands. An okay casino, decent accommodation and a passable selection of alternative entertainment (bowling alley, theme park, etc). Biggest disadvantage is the 8 hour car/bus ride each way.
S$500 – 3 days 2 nights in Macau. Tons of casinos to suit a range of budgets from the truly luxurious to the downright dodgy. A short flight away and can be quite cheap if you fly budget. Macau is also a nice city to explore if you get bored or go broke. Main disadvantage is the relatively high cost.
S$2,000 – Year-long entrance pass to Singapore Integrated Resort casinos. The advantage is easy access to what I think will be quite luxurious and professional casinos in a setting that seems like it’s going to be quite happening. The obvious downside is the fact that it’s $2,000. Bloody hell. To make it worth the cost you’d have to visit the casino at least 20 times within a year.
What do you think?
Do you plan to fork out the S$100 entrance fee just once to see what the Singapore IR casinos are like? Do you intend to go regularly? Would you rather spend the money on other casinos in the region? Or are you convinced that the S$2,000 membership is for you? Lady HengHeng is all ears.