The casino regulator in Singapore is looking into how data analytics can help it improve gaming-related risk management. So said on Thursday Singapore’s Minister of Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs, Josephine Teo.
Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority – also known by its acronym CRA – is “exploring how data analytics can be used to gain insights on the risk profiles of patrons and identify characteristics of patrons who pose regulatory risks,” said Ms Teo. She added: “Such insights can be used to support policy development and enhance CRA’s risk management.”
The official’s comments were featured in a speech delivered at the opening of the 5th Singapore Symposium on Gambling Regulation and Crime. The two-day event features a high-profile speaker line-up, including the heads of the regulatory agencies in each of the world’s top-three gaming jurisdictions by gross gaming revenue: Macau, Singapore and Nevada in the United States.
In her speech, Ms Teo also highlighted the importance of responsible gambling for the overall development of the industry.
“We are… working closely with the casinos in Singapore to implement measures to help patrons make informed decisions about gambling,” she said. “Some measures being studied include providing patrons with notifications on amount and time spent in the casinos, and encouraging patrons to voluntarily set caps on expenditure and duration of play.”
The text of Ms Teo’s speech did not provide additional detail on how such measures could be implemented.
The Singaporean authorities announced in April a 50-percent increase to casino entry levies for locals, as part of its policies to “minimising the social impact of problem gambling”. The move came as the Singaporean government agreed to the expansion of the city’s two integrated casino resorts.
‘Key challenges’ for regulators
In her speech, Ms Teo identified “two key challenges” with which casino regulators around the world were grappling: the rise of online gambling; and the reduced interest of younger customers in traditional gambling products.
“Everyone now has a smartphone with mobile broadband access,” she said. “From their smartphones, punters can access gambling products anywhere, any time.”
According to estimates by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers – also known as PwC – quoted by Ms Teo, global remote gambling revenue grew by 10 percent annually from 2009 to 2016, almost doubling to US$39 billion. “Globally, many jurisdictions have enacted new laws to tackle the rise of online gambling,” she said.
Ms Teo added: “According to market researchers, the Asia-Pacific online gambling market is projected to expand at double-digit rates annually up to the middle of the next decade. The market size of Asia-Pacific online gambling will grow almost threefold, more than the rest of the world.”
The Singaporean official said that, to respond to changes in customer preferences, gaming content suppliers were coming up with new products to appeal to younger patrons. “Regulators around the world will need to figure out how to regulate these new products,” she said.
Ms Teo added: “Such new products across various modes of gambling or gaming will certainly require us to put on our thinking hats, and probably take a look at the new laws that we need to put in place to regulate. Regulators and law enforcement agencies need to keep up to date with these developments and make sure our policies and rules remain effective.”
The Singaporean official pointed out that, in some of the new products, the traditional line between games of chance and games of skill was something of a “blur”.
“One example is loot boxes [in online computer games], which are randomised in-game bundles, that gamers can purchase,” Ms Teo said. “The payout of the loot box is assigned by chance, and can include in-demand top prizes such as powerful weapons or ‘skins’ that enhance the game experience.”
She added: “Some of us who are not so familiar with the digital world, still struggle with what the joy and the excitement is with these virtual prizes. But for the people who are involved in the game and are vested in it, this certainly engages their attention to a rather distinct degree.”
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