Singapore Gambling Regulatory Authority, Legal Changes into Effect

The Singapore Gambling Regulatory Authority Act was introduced for first reading in the Singapore Parliament on February 14, alongside the Gambling Control Act. They passed in Parliament on March 11, 2022, and are going into effect today, August 1, 2022. Together they bring a number of changes to how gambling is regulated in terms of government control, as well as legislation.

Regulatory Authority Changes

The Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) will be replacing the former Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) while also expanding its area of regulatory jurisdiction to include “all forms of gambling” in Singapore, as per the press release, available in the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) website. By unifying the resources behind gambling in general in Singapore, the GRA will be expected to “take a more holistic and coherent approach to gamble policies.” The GRA will be operating with the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) while illegal gambling activities will still be under the jurisdiction of the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

All of Singapore’s gambling authorities will be working under the rules within the GC Act, which also takes the approach of unifying all of Singapore’s gambling laws under a single regulatory entity, repealing the Betting Act, the Remote Gambling Act, the Common Gaming Houses Act and the Private Lotteries Act. As per the press release from MHA, this act will be taking a “risk-calibrated approach.” What this means exactly, can be best summarized by taking a closer look at the most impactful changes that go into effect today.

Legislation Changes That Take Effect Concurrently

Firstly, the GC Act sees the GRA issuing gaming licenses and overseeing that those licenses go to those who are “fit and proper to offer gambling services” and will also have some power to hold them accountable for their gaming activities. This has two big implications, as per the risk-calibrated approach, there will be a set of rules for “class-licensed activities”, as well as “social gambling”. To regulate the former, lower-risk gambling activities will be held under this class-licensed regime but the GRA will not be issuing separate licenses. All that needs to be done is to meet the class-license requirements. As for the latter, social gambling will be permitted between family members and friends, but only at home, as detecting the relationship between remote parties will pose challenges to the regulatory body that would be expensive to deal with, both in terms of time investment, as well as financially and technologically.

The GC Act will also be updating the penalty structure for illegal gambling, imposing a “three-tier penalty.” This means that the new gambling legislation will be commanding different degrees of penalty severity by distinguishing and prioritizing culpability in wrongdoers. The harshest penalties will be for the operators, and the lowest – for players. Agents will be sitting in the middle spot in the new three-tier penalty structure.

Last but not least, the press release outlines the enhanced social safeguards in protecting vulnerable persons that are going into effect under the GC Act. The smaller chance concerns the access of excluded individuals to gaming establishments, by including both in situ, as well as online platforms. It’s important to note that this does not apply to self-exclusion. The other important change is that it will now be a “criminal offense” for under-aged individuals to gamble and even enter gambling areas, except for areas where “entry checks are not required,” making entrance easy for children who might just be entering by chance, without attempting to gamble.

These are all excellent changes that might be happening at just the right time, with the country being praised for its recovery by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and casinos rapidly gaining steam. With increased revenue and new digital activity booming throughout the industry, the new legal changes are probably only going to help the country on its trajectory and provide sound foundations for future growth.

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