ANOTHER 15,000 people will be barred from entering the two casinos from as early as next month as the Government tightens its regulations to target the financially vulnerable.
The ban comes on the back of a survey last year that showed more low-income earners were gambling away large bets.
The move announced yesterday will affect Singaporeans and permanent residents who are currently on government aid.
They include 12,000 people who are receiving short- and medium-term help under the Community Care Endowment Fund.
These recipients, who may be temporarily out of work, get help such as cash grants. The ban will take effect from July 1.
From Aug 1, another 3,000 people will be barred from the casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. They are HDB dwellers paying subsidised rates for their rental flats, and who have chalked up rental arrears of six months or more.
The two groups will be barred under the Government's third-party exclusion order, which currently covers only undischarged bankrupts and those on the Public Assistance scheme.
As of last month, there were 27,882 people on this list.
Last month, The Straits Times reported that the Government would likely tighten its exclusion orders this month, after Mr Chan Chun Sing, who is Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, hinted at such a move in February.
Making the announcement yesterday, Mr Chan said these two groupshad shown 'initial signs' of financial strain as they struggled with their daily expenses.
'These... are the ones who are most unable to afford casino gambling and we want to help prevent them from getting into trouble,' he told reporters on the sidelines of a visit to the Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre.
But Mr Chan stressed that the Government was not targeting low-income people.
'We don't judge people by their income level but we want to look at gambling habits and really target our help to those people who need it,' he said, adding that feedback from stakeholders was that the ban was neither 'overly broad' nor 'sweeping'.
Once in effect, the total number of people under the Government's third-party exclusion list will be close to 43,000. There are also 64,064 self-exclusion orders and 1,083 family exclusion orders currently in force.
There are no official statistics on the extent of casino gambling among the two new groups.
But a survey last year by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed a small but growing number of gamblers who bet large amounts in various forms of gambling. They spent more than half of their income gambling, despite earning less than $2,000 a month.
In 2008, they formed up to 0.8 per cent of those surveyed. Last year, this figure rose to 2 per cent.
Counsellors welcomed the move but some said the ban may be targeting the wrong groups.
'The impact of the ban will not be significant as not many who are on social assistance will be able to afford the ($100 entrance) levy,' said Mr Chan Boon Huat of One Hope Centre.
Besides expanding the ban, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports is looking atrestricting the number of casino visits by frequent gamblers. Laws and rules governing the casinos are also being reviewed.
More details will be released in the second half of the year.