The Singapore parliament approved on Friday (March 11), via a second and final reading, the city-state’s new Gambling Control Act, a piece of legislation designed also to consolidate existing betting-related laws.
Also approved that same day was the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Act. It will establish a new body of that name, as the “single regulator for all forms of gambling” in the city-state. The Casino Regulatory Authority is currently the overseeing body for Singapore’s casino duopoly.
The Singapore government has said the law amendments were needed to keep up with technology that has been changing the way people gamble, and that has blurred the lines between gambling games and other forms of game.
The Gambling Control Bill will increase penalties for unlawful gambling, whether conducted in physical premises or online, and impose stiffer penalties for repeat offenders who facilitate or operate unlawful gambling services.
The new legislation introduces a specific offence of “proxy gambling”, with the local authorities saying it had to be “prohibited as the decision maker would have bypassed the entry checks put in place to screen out individuals of concern such as those under entry bans” from the country’s own casinos or slot halls.
Several industry commentators told GGRAsia that Singapore’s decision to criminalise proxy gambling was mostly about tying up a loophole left in earlier legislation.
The new legislation also makes it a criminal offence for underage individuals to gamble, “regardless whether with legal or unlawful operators”. There is a maximum of six years in jail for anyone aiding a minor to gamble, under the new legal framework.
Desmond Tan, Singapore’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, said in a speech on Friday that the two bills were “necessary” to ensure that the local authorities “continue to address the law-and-order and the social concerns arising from gambling, and also to keep pace with the evolving gambling landscape.”
The local government said previously it aims to establish the Gambling Regulatory Authority in the middle of this year.
Mr Tam said in his speech that the new regulatory body would give the authorities “the capabilities and expertise” to monitor new gambling products, and to “update our regulations if required.”
“There will be synergies from consolidating gambling legislation and regulation. As the single regulator for all forms of gambling, the Gambling Regulatory Authority will be able to pool resources and expertise together to deal with the issue,” he stated.
Mr Tam added: “This will allow the Gambling Regulatory Authority to keep pace with trends in the gambling landscape more effectively, and take a more holistic and coherent approach to gambling policies and issues.”
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