Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Many Chinese gamblers skip Singapore without paying their debts. Gambling in the People's Republic of China (PRC) is illegal, except in Macao, one of the PRC's special administrative regions, which has more than 30 casinos.
Singapore casinos, like those elsewhere in the world, give high rollers hefty lines of credit but more and more gamblers are running away from the Asian city-state without paying their bill.
If in Macau, debt collection is in the hands of groups linked to Chinese organised crime, only three debt collection agencies operate in Singapore, where they are heavily regulated and must renew their licences each year.
Reuters recently reported, citing local sources, that Resorts World one of the two casinos in Singapore, sued Chinese gambler Kuok Sio Kun, 46, in Singapore for not paying S.2 million (US$ 1.8 million) in debts. After its letter for payment went unanswered for months, the casino hired a Macau-based law firm to sue the woman.
"I have made all reasonable efforts and used all due means in my power to serve the court documents on the defendant, but have not been able to do so," the Macau lawyer said in the documents.
Singapore does not have reciprocal enforcement of judgments with China, except for Hong Kong. This means that even if a casino obtains a judgment in a Singapore court, it also has to sue the gambler in China.
"If there is a lot of gambling debt and the gambler is in China now, usually the casinos can hardly get any co-operation from the Chinese government to go after them because gambling is illegal in China," said Huang Jing, director at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
Three years after Singapore allowed casinos to open, its two casinos, the Genting Group's Resorts World Sentosa and the Las Vegas Sands' Marina Bay Sands, pulled in an estimated combined gross gaming revenue of about US$ 5.9 billion last year, just below the US$ 6.2 billion earned by dozens of casinos on the Las Vegas strip.
In Macau, more than 30 casinos brought in US billion in gaming revenue last year.