The act expanded the mandate of the preceding organisation, the Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore (CRA) beyond casinos to the entirety of the gambling landscape in the city state. As a consequence of this, the body was renamed to reflect the change.
The regulator said the rationale behind this unification of gambling regulation was to increase its agility and the coherence of its oversight.
The government stated in a press release accompanying the launch of the organisation: “The GRA Act establishes the GRA as the single regulator for all forms of gambling in Singapore.
“This allows the government to more effectively stay ahead of technological and gambling trends, respond more adequately to emerging gambling products, and take a more holistic and coherent approach to gambling policies.”
Prior to the change, gambling in Singapore was regulated by a constellation of differing agencies, each with their own structures and staff. In a response to parliamentary questioning in March, Minister of State Desmond Tan summed up the situation:
“Gambling regulation is currently overseen by various government agencies. For example, CRA regulates casinos; the Gambling Regulatory Unit in MHA today regulates online gambling services and fruit machines; and the Singapore Totalisator Board governs Singapore Pools’ physical gambling services,” he said.
Tan continued, pointing to the positive effects of consolidating gambling legislation and regulation.
“There will be synergies from consolidating gambling legislation and regulation. As the single regulator for all forms of gambling, GRA will be able to pool resources and expertise together to deal with the issue.
“The establishment of GRA will be resource neutral across the government. Manpower will be transferred together with the transfer of function.
“This will not lead to an excess of employees. In addition to overseeing existing regulatory regimes, GRA will also oversee new regulatory regimes, such as the new licensing regime for gambling in private establishments and class-licence regimes for low-risk gambling products.”
The establishment of the GRA was one of the keystones of the wider package of gambling reforms passed in March. Alongside the GRA act, which updated the purview of the regulator, the Singapore legislature also passed the Gambling Control act, which updated gambling law.