Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revealed its plans to revamp the country’s gambling laws, in hopes of seeing a new regulatory authority established by 2021.
Gambling in Singapore is currently managed by a number of regulatory bodies, with the Casino Regulatory Authority overseeing casino gambling, the Gambling Regulatory Unit of the MHA overseeing remote gambling and fruit machines, and the Singapore Totalisator Board overseeing retail pools betting.
Apart from these regulators, the Singapore Police Force is also responsible for enforcing laws against illegal gambling and the Ministry of Social and Family Development is in charge of enforcing safety measures against gambling-related harm.
According to the MHA, although these bodies have successfully regulated gambling in the country, the modern gambling landscape needs a single regulatory body. This would result to the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority.
“[The consolidation of regulatory powers] will allow the 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,” explained the MHA.
The Ministry also said it would be reviewing the country’s gambling regulations, with hopes to update the law by 2021 “to ensure that regulatory mechanisms can effectively address evolving gambling products and business models.”
According to the MHA, one area that it wanted to explore was the regulation of loot boxes in video games. It also wants to look into the penalties for regulatory violations to make sure these were consistent across all gambling verticals.
“Even as we update our laws, the MHA will retain a generally prohibitive stance towards gambling and continue to maintain a risk-based regulatory approach towards existing gambling operators,” the MHA said.
The Ministry announced in 2015 that authorities in the country should start clamping down on illegal online gambling operations by blocking unlicensed websites, after the implementation of the Remote Gambling Act in 2014.
But in 2016 Singapore Pools, a state-owned lottery company, became the first operator to introduce a legal online betting service in the country.