The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in Singapore has doubled down on its plans to introduce a new gambling regulator in the country, with the arrival of the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) expected to happen at some point in mid-2022. To this end, two new bills were introduced in parliament for reading today.
The country has been discussing re-regulating its gambling industry since at least 2021, and The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Bill will seek to establish a regulatory body that brings all oversight on the industry and its numerous permutations under the roof of a single agency.
This is a significant consolidation of regulation, given that Singapore now uses four independent agencies, to name the Singapore Totalisator Board, the Gambling Regulatory Unit, the Casino Regulatory Authority, and Singapore Police Force to regulate different parts of the industry. These bodies will now operate under the same agency name and continue to carry out their oversight on the industry.
Understanding the Changes to Gambling
Asgam was the media to first report extensively on the developments and cited the MHA, which is confident that the fast-evolving gambling industry requires actualization of the current gambling framework and streamlining of the governing processes:
“To stay ahead of technological and global trends, respond more adequately to emerging gambling products and take a more holistic and coherent approach to gambling policies and issues, we should rationalize and consolidate.”
Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Bill is joined by the Gambling Control Bill, which will address how the industry is changing and what new challenges consumers and businesses face. This bill will pave the framework for addressing non-casino gambling and unlawful gambling offense while repealing four existing acts, specifically the Betting Act, the Private Lotteries Act, Remote Gambling Act and Gaming Houses Act.
The Gambling Control Bill will cover all activities that may be treated as gambling at some point under MHA’s current understanding of what this industry is. Financial mechanisms are not going to be brought under gambling regulation, unlike other jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom, there has been growing support for including cryptocurrencies in the re-regulation of the Gambling Act.
More Bills Expected to Come
Whether the Gambling Act review draft would contain any such language is still a few months from being known. Social gambling will be exempted as well. That is to say that private games between friends may now be carried out without the risk of legal repercussions. The bill will also introduce a licensing regime for various gambling establishments in the country.
The MHA is also planning to add a third bill called the Casino Control Bill, which will clarify how GRA would regulate casinos. As a reminder, Singapore introduced a new Gambling Duties Bill that increases taxes on casinos.