Singapore’s casinos have a problem with attracting revenue from mainland tourists, and face even more problems trying to recover their debts from Chinese gamblers, who simply have to flee back to China to evade payment.
According to Bloomberg, the number of lawsuits against errant gamblers who flee from debt has gone up from 2 in 2013 to 49 in 2014.
Part of the reason for this predicament is because Singapore does not have a reciprocal enforcement of judgements with China. It only has one such arrangement with Hong Kong.
This reciprocal enforcement of judgements allows decisions made in Singapore courts, such as the judgements on the recovery of debts, to be enforced in foreign territory. This has allowed Marina Bay Sands to sue former Olympic gold medallist Kong Linghui for some HK$2.55 in gambling debt owed.
Last year, over 2.86 million Chinese tourists stopped over in Singapore, a 36% increase since the previous year. However, this number is still far from the figures in Macau, which see some 20 million mainland Chinese gamblers per year.
Another problem hindering the growth in mainland Chinese gamblers is the island’s strict gambling laws, which has so far allowed only 3 licensed money lenders to act as a source of gambling funds for visiting tourists. In Macau, over 200 such outlets are available. Casinos in Macau are also not restricted to “legal means” to coerce gamblers into paying their debts.