Singapore to allow family social gambling in new legislation changes
On Monday, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs proposed to allow “physical, social gambling among family and friends, subject to conditions that safeguard against criminal exploitation.” However, online social gambling would still not be allowed.
These changes arose from the revised gambling legislation in the country. Online social gambling is currently criminal under the Remote Gambling Act, which became effective in 2015.
Early in 2020, the ministry announced that it would revise the relevant laws and amend them to cover emerging products. It also expressed plans to set up a new centralized body, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), to oversee the gambling in Singapore.
Singapore currently does not permit most types of online gambling. This approach has worked so far, significantly reducing gambling-related crimes. Reports by the National Council on Problem Gambling surveys show that gambling rates have remained relatively stable at around 1%.
However, the government has since been making public consultations for changes to the gambling laws. They expressed concerns that technology advancements had made online gambling products more accessible.
The ministry recognizes that the boundaries between gaming and gambling are blurring by the day. As such, total exemption from online social gambling would be difficult to enforce.
The government noted that it is undesirable to disallow all forms of gambling as this would create a black market with more law-and-order issues.
However, they stressed that “There remains a need for safeguards to ensure that these activities do not induce gambling behavior and cause social problems.” The ministry indicated that they did not want to “over-regulate.”
For instance, they stated that many members of the public enjoy arcade games, claw machines, mystery boxes, and the like. So, they proposed a prize cap of SGD100 ($74) for these games. They anticipate that this cap would reduce the effect of high-value prizes without over-regulating operators.
They also proposed higher penalties for repeat offenders who operate illegal gambling services to reduce its occurrence. However, they would not do the same for members of the public who use these services.
Singapore has two brick-and-mortar casino resorts: Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, run by Genting Singapore Ltd and US-based Las Vegas Sands Corp. And, the state had to revise gambling legislation to allow these casinos.