Monday also sees the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore (GRA) start its work as the consolidating authority for all such activity in the city state – taking on the work of the former Casino Regulatory Authority and adding some new responsibilities – as the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Act passed in March, also takes effect.
Under the Gambling Control Act, it is a criminal offence to conduct or facilitate proxy gambling relating to games “outside a gaming machine room”. The crime carries a penalty of up to one year in prison, or a fine of up to SGD10,000 (US$7,240), or both.
The offence is defined as “participating in a game of chance using a gaming machine located in a gaming machine room and a player of the game, even though he or she is not in the same gaming machine room”.
The Gambling Control Act applies a three-tier penalty structure for unlawful gambling offences – relating to online and offline activities – “which differentiates between punters, agents, and operators”, said a Sunday statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs, confirming the coming into effect of the updated regulatory framework, and the start of the role of the GRA.
Under the control law, anyone who either takes part in gambling with an underage person, or gambles with another person on behalf of an underage individual, will face up to six years in prison, or a fine of up to SGD300,000, or both.
“The GRA Act establishes the GRA as the single regulator for all forms of gambling in Singapore. This allows the government to more effectively stay ahead of technological and gambling trends, respond more adequately to emerging gambling products, and take a more holistic and coherent approach to gambling policies,” according to Sunday’s statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The statement further noted: “The GRA will work with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, and the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), to protect Singaporeans from the harms of gambling, while the Singapore Police Force will continue to enforce” action “against illegal gambling activities”.
The GRA Act is said to take a “risk-calibrated approach” to overseeing gambling activities, added Sunday’s announcement.
That law gives the GRA powers to issue gambling operator licences for gambling services such as betting and lottery business, gaming machine rooms, and gambling in private establishments, provided the licensees are considered “fit and proper” for the role.
The same statute provides class licensing regimes for “lower-risk gambling products”, such as business promotion lucky draws.
While operators offering such activities do not need to be individually licensed by the GRA, they must meet the requirements of the class licence.
The Gambling Control Act does allow “social gambling among family and friends in homes”. But such permission “will not be extended to online platforms, given the practical difficulties in establishing the relationship of individuals in the online context, whether an online gambling activity is really social gambling among family and friends”, noted the announcement.
“The Singapore Police Force will take enforcement action against criminal syndicates that seek to exploit this exemption to conduct illegal gambling activities,” added the statement.
The Gambling Control Act also makes it an offence for excluded individuals to enter and gamble in designated areas, across all online platforms and physical locations, where National Council on Problem Gambling exclusions are applicable, namely gaming machine rooms and Singapore Pools’ online gambling platform.
Sunday’s statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs added: “This does not apply to individuals under self-exclusion, to avoid deterring individuals from applying for this exclusion.”
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