Casino & games

Singapore prepares overhaul of gambling regulations

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced plans to overhaul the country's gambling regulations, that will see a new regulatory authority established by 2021. 

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced plans to overhaul the country's gambling regulations, that will see a new regulatory authority established by 2021.

Currently, gambling in Singapore is regulated by multiple bodies, with the Casino Regulatory Authority regulating casino gambling, the Gambling Regulatory Unit of the MHA regulating remote gambling and fruit machines and the the Singapore Totalisator Board governing retail pools betting. 

In addition to these bodies, the Singapore Police Force is responsible for enforcement of laws against illegal gambling and the Ministry of Social and Family Development is responsible for creating safeguards against gambling-related harm. 

The MHA said that although these bodies have had success thus far in regulating gambling, the modern gambling landscape necessitates a single regulatory body. This will lead to the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA).

“[The consolidation of regulatory powers] will allow the GRA to stay even more effectively abreast of technological and global trends, respond faster to emerging products in particular those that cut across different domains, and take a more holistic approach to gambling policies and issues,” the MHA explained.

In addition, the Ministry said it was reviewing Singapore’s gambling regulations, with the intent to update the law by 2021 “to ensure that regulatory mechanisms can effectively address evolving gambling products and business models”.

One area the MHA said it would look into was the regulation of loot boxes in video games. In addition, it said it would look into the penalties for regulatory breaches to ensure these were consistent across gambling verticals.

“Even as we update our laws, the MHA will retain a generally prohibitive stance towards gambling, and continue to maintain a risk-based regulatory approach towards existing gambling operators,” the MHA said.

In 2015, the MHA announced that authorities in the country are to begin clamping down on illegal online gambling operations by blocking unlicensed websites, after the Remote Gambling Act came into effect in 2014.

However in 2016, state-owned lottery company Singapore Pools became the first operator to launch a legal online betting service in the country.

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