Singapore plans changes to gambling laws

The government wants to launch the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) this year.
The government wants to launch the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) this year.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wants to launch a public consultation on amendments on social gambling, online games and penalties for illegal gambling.

Singapore.- An update to gambling laws in Singapore has been proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which wants to launch a new gambling regulator, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), this year.

The proposed changes include fines of up to $500,000 and seven years imprisonment for an operator of illegal gambling services.

Another amendment would allow physical social gambling among family and friends while online social gambling among families and friends would remain banned “due to the complexities of differentiation.”

The MHA also wants to introduce a prize cap of SGD100 (US$74) for mystery boxes, arcade games and claw machines arguing that this will be sufficient to address the inducement effect of high-value prizes, without increasing the regulatory burden on operators. 

a survey conducted by the MHA in 2020 on this proposal showed about 70 per cent and 68 per cent of respondents (comprising Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) agreed that SGD100 is an appropriate cap for mystery boxes and arcade games respectively.

The public consultation on the amendments will close onAugust 10.

See also: 13 suspected of illegal horse-betting activities.

Definition of gambling

The amendments also seek to amend the definition of gambling to make it technology-neutral, covering existing and emerging gambling products. 

The MHA said the definition of “gambling” differs across different pieces of legislation as they were enacted at different points of time and for different gambling products. 

It said: “This broader definition of gambling may, however, cover products that MHA has no intention of treating as gambling products (e.g. financial products already regulated by Monetary Authority of Singapore). 

“We will carve out these products from the definition of gambling. This approach has also been adopted in other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, and Denmark.”

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