MBS casino patrons shuffle in slippers

Elizabeth Soh
Elizabeth Soh
Singapore Showbiz

A flip-flop wearing gambler is allowed past checks into the Marina Bay Sands casino (Yahoo! Photos)

Clad in a pair of thin flip flops, bermudas, and an oversized t-shirt that has seen better days, the uncle in his 50s heads to a queue, checking his waist pouch for cash.

No, he is not joining the hawker centre line for the best mee pok tah (fishball noodles) in Bedok but trying to get into the posh Marina Bay Sands casino through the marble-tiled lobby complete with suited casino staff.

Ignoring the prominently displayed dress code at the casino entrance, the man strolls past expensive jewellery shops, slippers slapping against the polished floor, and thrusts his passport at security, who lets him in with nary a glance.

Gamblers like him were a common sight on all four afternoons Yahoo! Singapore spent at various entrances at the high-end casino last week after receiving feedback from readers about the flagrant disregard casino patrons in Singapore have for proper dress codes.

In this tongue-in-cheek article, we people watch and find out who exactly these "fashion criminals" are and how they get away with it.

Ratty sandals and bermudas also make the cut at MBS (Yahoo! Photos)

'Fancy' footwear

Despite a sign saying "Beachwear, including flip flops are not allowed", the island spirit was strong amongst MBS' casino patrons. All manner of open-toed, flesh-exposing foot wear made repeated appearances.

First, there were the "Sandal Uncles" (see picture above), men in their 40s donning double strap PVC sandals. They usually pair it with tatty, dark coloured knee length bermudas and accessorize with multi-compartment fanny packs either secured around their waists or slung from their shoulders.

"I think wear slipper cannot, leh," said one nervous looking Sandal Uncle from a neighbouring country to another as they gathered at the bank teller machines nearby, trying to decide whether or not to go in.

"Don't worry, I go before. We go together, four people, they won't stop one," his similarly-dressed friend said confidently -- and he was right, after a quick passport check, they were allowed into the casino without fuss.

Then there were those who picked comfort over style -- and dress regulations. While several pairs of brightly coloured Crocs were spotted, replacing the once hugely popular rubber clogs is a sandal-slipper hybrid worn by the "Fit Flop Aunties".

"Fit Flop Aunties" are a common sight at the MBS Casino (Yahoo! Photos)

With thick, aerodynamic soles topped with -- gasp -- sequined foot grips, these Fit Flops light the way for the determined aunties who wear them with 3/4 length tights as they stride towards the casino, shoulder bags wedged tightly under their arm pits.

When asked why she wore the Fit Flops to the casino, one of the Fit Flop Aunties, who wanted to be known only as Mdm Anna Lim, 56, said that they were "comfortable for standing for a long time".

"We pay quite a lot to go in, you know, so we don't gamble a lot, actually we just stand and see the game, so our legs get very tired. The Fit Flops are very comfortable, I can stand and walk for five or six hours," the retired office manager said.

She said that she has never been stopped for flouting the dress code, both at MBS as well as the Resorts World Casino on Sentosa, which she also frequents.

Shorts, shorts, and more shorts.

Shorts, socks, and sports shoes were spotted on patrons (Yahoo! Photos)

The second most common fashion faux pas and dress code flouting were shorts-wearing patrons.

There were those who wore khaki bermudas at a more acceptable knee length, and then those wearing baggy beach shorts with loud, Hawaiian prints.

In one case, a woman wearing white hot pants paired with sky-high stilettos and a top with a half exposed back made it in.

Hawaiian beach bermudas (Left) and hot pants (Right) spotted (Yahoo! Photos)

Yahoo! Singapore counted over 10 shorts-wearing patrons attempting to enter the casino in a span of just twenty minutes and only one was turned away... for getting in the queue for Singaporeans and PRs instead of the one for foreigners.

When the casinos first opened in 2010, much ado was made about dress code regulations. Local newspapers ran stories about how strict casino staff were about turning away inappropriately dressed casino-goers.

So why has enforcement become so slack since? Some casinogoers Yahoo! Singapore spoke to gave their opinion on why flip flops have -- albeit unofficially -- become okay.

Dress codes are prominently displayed at the entrance (above) and also available online (below) (Yahoo! Photo / Screengrab)

Dress code? Who cares?

"It's bad for business if they keep turning away people who are dressed inappropriately," said bank executive Jeremy Quek, 28, who gambles at the MBS casino at least twice a month.

"Some of the tourists are only here for a day, so they get really annoyed and disappointed when they can't get in and sometimes kick up a fuss. It's bad publicity," said Quek, who said that he has seen some tourists make a scene.

"Everyone in Singapore wears slippers - to market, to Orchard Road. Plus the tourists .. a lot of them make a stop at the casino before going to the beach at Sentosa or to Universal Studios, so they wear t-shirts and shorts," said Mdm Yeo Teng Teng, 60, who is a regular at the RWS casino, who is a self-professed Fit Flop Auntie.

"Anyway they harm no one, so why not."

However, French tourists Jean-Luc Collard and his wife, Alexandra, said they were disappointed at the appearance of casino patrons at MBS.

"It's such a beautiful casino, with lovely carpets and furnishings. I think it's a basic expectation and etiquette to dress up nicely for a glamorous place like this," said Collard, who wore a dress shirt, linen pants, and leather shoes.

"Take a hint from James Bond - do you ever see anyone in a James Bond movie wearing slippers to play roulette? It's simply not appropriate."

American tourists Dan and Leah Stanley begged to differ.

According to them, casinos in Las Vegas do not practice a strict dress code either. Instead, casually dressed patrons head for less glamorous casinos to gamble where they will be more comfortable.

"From what we see, Singapore seems to be a really casual place, the locals dress comfortably, so we aren't surprised to see people wearing beach wear in the casinos, it just reflects on the culture here. They should just scrap the dress code if they aren't going to enforce it," said Mrs Stanley.

What do you think ? Should the dress code be scrapped ? Should slippers and shorts be allowed in casinos?