(A bird’s view on Singapore’s wonderful Marina Bay..including the National Day Parade platform on the left..the Singapore Flyer (Ferris wheel) somewhat in the middle and the three iconic towers of the SANDS Singapore Hotel…with the fantastic skypark area that will only open end of June 2010)
STILL GOT SOME CASH LEFT?
Then let’s have another look at the casino. I managed a casual walk with a good friend into this new attraction a week ago and feel like just leaving a few visual impressions on this site. As one can imagine from my previous post, I strongly resisted the urge to spend a dime on any gambling, but had great fun just observing the area and people. As for ‘observing’..just by counting a few of the small black hemispheres on the ceilings, we guesses there must be thousands of cameras just on one floor. Better behave and sneeze gracefully..there is no hidden corner in this whole building.
WHY GAMBLING IS NOW GOOD FOR SOCIETY
Walking to the entrance, I had to wonder again how Singaporeans feel about the levy of 100$. Does it provide you with some sort of protection from yourself? Or does it actually lead to more risk-taking during gambling in the hope to recoup the levy at the roulette or black jack table? I am not sure about this..but possibly many local gamblers see it as I would…spend the 100 bucks to enjoy a different sort of entertainment (aside from movies or clubbing) with some friends for a night, with the healthy expectation that you will lose a few hundreds and just file the loss afterwards as something that cannot be avoided in such an establishment.
After all, all the collected levies from the Sentosa Resort and the SANDS casino go to the Singapore Totalisator Board and are meant to fund projects that benefit the community. Fair enough and certainly a great way to use this money. On the other hand, to me this sounds strangely familiar to a political stunt in Germany a while ago, where politicians invented the hilarious idea to use increased taxes from smoking directly to fund the states’ ailing retirement balance sheets. This was then rightly ridiculed by many people as ‘Rauchen fuer die Rente’ or ‘Smoking for the Pension’, the sort of weird incentive only some German politicians could have come up with. Here in the casino case, one could equally dub it as ’Gambling for the Community’, as the good local gambler can really enjoy the fuzzy, warm feeling of supporting his/her community by going to the casinos even more. A fantastic win/win, isn’t it?
As a last note on the levies, the press published a few days ago that so far $70m in entry levies were collected by the two Casinos as of 10 May. When I calculate that quickly with my ten fingers, it would mean that the two resorts drew on average about 8000 Singaporeans/PRs in per day. What do all these people spend? How much do they win? Not sure whether there will be any public data on this, but it would be absolutely interesting.
(A look from the entry level 1st floor to the ground floor, where smoking and drinking at the tables seems allowed. Nice, impressive architecture…but despite the warm, golden-red colors, the whole surrounding still felt a bit technical and cold to me)
MONEY AND REASONING
Walking around the aisles, it became apparent that on most tables only small money is played. One could say, the lower and the first floor are somewhat the ‘staple’ of the casino to fill up the place with normal folks. Stakes are usually in 10$ chips for the Roulette tables and each game with the money wheel will not drain more than 5 Cents from you. Not too much money can be made here (I am of course talking from the Casino’s point of view), which is why there are two upper floors with more than 30 private rooms. Surely, the real action takes place here..and I can only imagine the stakes…which are supposedly higher in Singapore than in Vegas, but I have no data to support that.
I want to close this post with a quick reference to an article in the Economist Newspaper on the 6th of May (Link). In it, the author describes recent findings on the addictive nature of ‘near misses’ in gambling. “Gamblers apparently often believe that games like roulette, picking lottery numbers involve some degree of skill, even though they do not.” As opposed to Football, where a near miss (almost striking a goal) can mean a valuable lesson and lead to improvement for the player, a ‘near miss’ in gambling is meaningless as it does not involve skill but a set of known probabilities. Even worse, it then produces the fake, rewarding feelings (and increased dopamine levels) that eventually can lead to addiction.
What to do? Just play, have fun with friends at a night out, but we aware of your own insignificance as a player in this system. You cannot game the casino and even if you win once on the evening, the law of big numbers is threateningly hovering over your head. Greed will almost ensure that you will lose out in the end and fall victim to the designed probabilities.
As Wilson Mizner (American Dramatist) wrote:
Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something.