Singapore is marking the end of a long journey in which the country has set out to overhaul its gambling industry and create a regulatory framework that would create clear-cut rules, boost competitiveness, and improve consumer safety. Now, the Singapore parliament has gone ahead with two bills that are designed to usher in a number of important regulatory changes.
Singapore’s Gambling Control Bill Introduces New Rules
The Gambling Control Bill is looking to criminalize certain offenses. For example, proxy betting and underage gambling will now both be criminal offenses, although social gambling with friends and family would be exempt from any enforcement action. The bill is also looking to create various licensing conditions for popular gambling operations such as fruit machines, pool products, and others.
For example, Singapore wants to differentiate between low and high-risk gambling products, with those that constitute a low risk receiving an exemption and no longer needing to be individually licensed to operate. Proxy betting will be an important part of the measure as it would be considered a serious offense by any casino to allow such activity to take place on its premises.
As reported by the Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan, the onus will be on casinos to ensure that proxy betting does not take place. The fear is that people who have been excluded from gambling, or individuals with criminal ties, may use other people to enter casino resorts and gamble on their behalf but under the proxy’s name.
Casinos may face a litany of financial penalties and enforcement action if they fail to comply with this and other rules established under the new bills.
New Regulatory Body Going According to Plan
The other proposed bill, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore (GRA) Bill, will seek to create the regulatory body known as the Casino Regulatory Authority.
This body will serve in a way similar to the UK Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom and seek to regulate all forms of gambling and issue the necessary oversight and enforcement action. Singapore’s current regulatory makeup in gambling is piecemeal with different branches of government overseeing the different aspects of the gambling experience. Moving forward the GRA should be able to regulate the activity in a holistic and efficient manner.
This new regulatory should arrive at some point in 2022 and the latest regulatory move comes on top of the previously passed Gambling Duties Bill which hiked the tax rate for the existing casinos, The bill, though, had some benefits for the industry too, extending the exclusivity period for the Marina Bay and Resorts Sentosa through 2030.
In the meantime, Singapore has been clamping down on illegal gambling activities throughout the country. More enforcement action is needed to fully reign in the illegal gambling sector, but there are many positive signs that this is happening.