This is a lawyer's view re-posted from TODAY.
TODAY Jun 10, 2010
Letter from Tan Sin Liang
I AM a compliance lawyer who recently acted for one of the casinos. This incident has raised an interesting issue: Is a lift breakdown a legal excuse not to pay the mandatory levy to enter the casino? Does the law provide exceptions to such incidents?
The people who are exempt from paying the $100 levy are specified in Section116 (5) of the Casino Act and the Schedule of The Casino Control (Entry Levy) Regulations 2010. In theory, the casino staff were right in asking the diners to pay the levy as matter of compliance with the law - but this rightly would infuriate the diners, since the breakdown was no fault of theirs.
There's no "exceptional circumstances" provided in both the Casino Act nor the Casino Regulations that excuses the diners, no matter the circumstances, from paying the levy in entering the casino.
Based on the law, in my opinion, both the casino and the diners have technically breached Section116. The casino was wrong in not collecting the levy. The diners were wrong in not paying (if they were Singapore residents).
A common-sense approach should be adopted by the authorities in deciding whether to prosecute such a technical violation.
A better solution is to amend and clarify the law so innocent visitors are not unnecessarily exposed to any form of legal sanctions.