Singapore to overhaul gambling regulation

Singapore generic

Singapore said it will overhaul its gambling regulation to stay ahead of new technological trends and respond to emerging products, though stressed its overall stance would remain “generally prohibitive.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said it plans to expand the mandate of the Casino Control Commission to create the Gambling Regulatory Authority, which will oversee all areas of gaming in the city state. The MHA said the changes would be carried out by 2021.

At present, the Casino Control Commission regulates Singapore’s two integrated resorts, while a gambling unit within the MHA regulates fruit machines and remote services. Racing and wagering activities carried out by Singapore Pools come under the Singapore Totalisator Board.

Online gaming, outside of activities carried out by Singapore Pools, are strictly prohibited.

The GRA will consolidate and optimise gambling regulatory resources within a single agency. 

“This 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 MHA said.

Singapore’s regulatory framework for its gambling industry has been widely copied as a model around Asia, with policymakers in Japan looking at how casinos are regulated there as a basis for its own nascent industry. 

The MHA said its framework has been effective, with casino crimes making up less than one percent of overall crime and the number of people arrested for illegal gambling decreasing by 28 percent from 2011 to 2019. Probable pathological and problem gambling rates have remained relatively stable, at less than one percent over the past five years.

But, evolving business models and products have prompted the need for a review. For example, it will study the need to regulate products such as “mystery boxes” and will also review penalties.