Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) says it plans to officially establish the state’s new gambling regulator, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), by mid-2022 after two key bills were introduced for their first reading in parliament on Monday.
The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Bill is at the heart of the MHA’s efforts to overhaul gambling regulation in Singapore by consolidating the four current regulatory bodies into a single agency. The four current bodies are the Casino Regulatory Authority, which regulates Singapore’s two casinos, the Gambling Regulatory Unit in the Ministry of Home Affairs, which regulates online gambling services and fruit machines, the Singapore Totalisator Board which governs physical gambling services operated by Singapore Pools, and the Singapore Police Force which takes enforcement action against unlawful gambling activities.
“To stay ahead of technological and global trends, respond more adequately to emerging gambling products and take a more holistic and coherent approach to gambling policies and issues, we should rationalise and consolidate,” the MHA said on Monday.
“The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Bill will establish the GRA as the single regulator for all forms of gambling. We aim to establish the GRA in mid-2022.”
Also introduced to parliament for first reading was the Gambling Control Bill, which updates gambling laws and regulatory approaches in order to keep pace with the “evolving gambling landscape.” The Bill covers unlawful gambling offences and the regulation of non-casino gambling, and once it becomes law will see will four current laws repealed – the Betting Act (BA), Common Gaming Houses Act (CGHA), Private Lotteries Act and Remote Gambling Act (RGA).
Among the key changes under the Gambling Control Bill, the definition of gambling will be amended to cover both existing and emerging betting products although it will not cover products the MHA has no intention of treating as gambling products, such as investments in financial products.
It will also specifically legislate to provide an exemption for “social gambling” among friends and family, establish a licensing regime for products such as fruit machines, Singapore Pools’ products and gambling at private establishments, and introduce a class licensing regime for lower-risk gambling practices whereby products do not need to be individually licensed. Notably, it will for the first time criminalize both proxy betting and underage gambling.
According to the MHA, a new Casino Control (Amendment) Bill will be tabled at a later date, aiming “to enhance GRA’s effectiveness in regulating the casinos, and ensure the continued relevance of casino regulations.”
Source: Inside Asian Gaming