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Singapore – Singapore to unify gambling under one Gambling Regulatory Authority

By - 6 April 2020

Singapore is planning to unite its betting and gaming regulatory bodies under a single agency to create a new Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) under the mandate of the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA).

It will reconstitute the Statutory Board to establish the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) by 2021, with the mandate of regulating the entire gambling landscape in Singapore.

The single agency will allow ‘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 Ministry said: “To ensure that our laws and regulatory approach towards gambling keep pace with the evolving gambling landscape and remain effective, MHA will be reviewing and amending gambling-related legislation by 2021. Gambling regulation in Singapore is currently overseen by various Government agencies. CRA regulates the casinos, while the Gambling Regulatory Unit in MHA regulates remote gambling services and fruit machines. The Singapore Totalisator Board governs terrestrial gambling services operated by the Singapore Pools. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) takes enforcement action against illegal gambling activities. In addition, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is responsible for social safeguards to address the harms of gambling, and also regulates the advertising and promotion of gambling, as well as the Responsible Gambling Programmes of regulated entities.”

“Overall, our gambling regulatory framework has delivered good outcomes,” it added. “Gambling-related crimes remains low in number, and problem gambling is under control. Casino crimes contributed to fewer than one per cent of overall crime, and the number of people arrested for illegal gambling has decreased by 28 per cent from 2011 to 2019. Probable pathological and problem gambling rates have remained relatively stable, at less than one per cent over the past five years. However, there are emerging trends that can have a significant impact on the gambling landscape. For example, technology has changed the way people gamble and made it more accessible. Business models have evolved to suit changing customer preferences by introducing gambling elements in products that are traditionally not seen as gambling.

“MHA will review and amend all gambling legislation by 2021 to ensure that our regulatory mechanisms can effectively address evolving gambling products and business models. For example, we will study the need to regulate products such as “mystery boxes”. We will also review the penalties for offences to ensure consistency across remote and terrestrial gambling. Even as we update our laws, MHA will retain a generally prohibitive stance towards gambling, and continue to maintain a risk-based regulatory approach towards existing gambling operators. As part of the upcoming transformation in the gambling regulatory landscape, MHA will engage key stakeholders to take on board their views in the coming year. These include gambling operators, religious organisations, social service agencies, and members of the public.”

Singapore confirmed over the weekend that its integrated casinos, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, would shut down almost all services from April 7 for a month. Macau is now the only place in the Asia-Pacific region in which casinos are currently open, with casinos in the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Russia, Australia and New Zealand all closing.

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