SINGAPORE Genting Singapore's casino broke the law by partially reimbursing the annual entry fee paid by some local people, and staff could face criminal charges for providing misleading information, the city state's casino regulator said on Wednesday.
From February to May 2011, Genting Singapore (GENS.SI) unit Resorts World Sentosa Pte. Ltd. (RWS.L) gave incentives such as concert tickets and hotel accommodation to around 3,400 locals who paid a S$2,000 annual levy to enter the casino, breaching a major social safeguard against problem gambling, the Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore CRA.L said.
"Casino operators are prohibited from refunding or reimbursing the entry levy, whether directly or indirectly. This is clearly laid out in the Casino Control Act," CRA said in a statement on its website seen after the close of trading.
"During the course of investigations, CRA discovered that certain documents submitted by RWS staff members to CRA could have been forged, and that false or misleading information could have been provided to CRA," it added.
"CRA had therefore referred these cases to the Commercial Affairs Department CAD.L for investigation into possible criminal offences," added the regulator, which also fined the Genting unit S$600,000.
CRA spokeswoman Cheryl Foo said the regulator had not referred cases to the police white collar crime unit prior to this incident.
Genting had yet to issue a statement as of 1115 GMT.
Singapore allowed two multibillion-dollar casino resorts to open in 2010 as part of measures to boost tourism. The casinos have been extremely successful, and gaming revenues in the city state hit $5.7 billion last year -- roughly on a par with the Las Vegas Strip.
U.S. casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N) operates Singapore's other casino-resort.
"It sounds very serious... There could be a little bit of knee-jerk reaction for the share price tomorrow," said a Singapore analyst who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Genting Singapore rose 0.7 percent on Wednesday but its shares have fallen around 8 percent so far this year versus the 14 percent gain in the benchmark Straits Times Index .FTSTI.
CRA said that in addition to the fine it is investigating whether certain RWS employees had breached the Casino Control Act or any of the conditions of their special employee licences.
CRA chief executive Lau Peet Meng added the case was "RWS's second breach with regard to the reimbursement of entry levy".
"While we note that RWS has put in place measures to strengthen its compliance processes as a result of this breach, CRA is sending a clear signal to the operator that they should comply fully with the social safeguards put in place to protect locals," he added.
For the full CRA statement, click on: here (Reporting by Kevin Lim; Additional reporting by Eveline Danubrata; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)