Singapore Moves to Have a Single Regulator for All Gambling

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Posted on: February 14, 2022, 08:57h. 

Last updated on: February 14, 2022, 12:06h.

Singapore’s parliament has taken the next step toward the completion of its goal to have a unified gambling industry. Legislators discussed the country’s updated gambling laws today and made progress on their implementation.

Marina Bay Sands
A view of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore from across the water. Soon, the casino will have new rules and regulations to follow. (Image: Flickr)

Singapore has spent the past several years updating its gambling industry. It announced in 2020 that a new Gaming Authority was coming that would oversee all gambling in the country. That regulatory agency was to make its arrival in 2021.

However, like so many other countries, COVID-19 had other plans. Attention was temporarily given elsewhere.

Singapore Casinos Face New Rules

While lawmakers determined that they needed to focus their energy on other issues, they didn’t hesitate to approve a new tax regime last month. Gross gaming revenue will be taxed at 18% instead of 15%. This applies through the first SG$3.1 billion (US$2.3 billion). After that, the rate jumps to 22%.

Now, with COVID-19 seemingly starting to loosen its grasp, Singapore is pushing forward with its gambling law revision. Its parliament conducted its first reading of the new Gambling Control Bill and the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) of Singapore Bill today.

The GRA is a new concept for Singapore. It would be a single regulator for all gambling activity, instead of having a separate regulator for casinos and one for other forms of gambling. Currently, the Casino Regulatory Authority oversees the country’s two integrated resorts.

The arrival of the GRA will cause several other gambling laws to disappear. The Betting Act, the Common Gaming Houses Act, the Private Lotteries Act, and the Remote Gambling Act will no longer exist, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Although the GRA bill creates a new regulator for all forms of gambling, it stops short of creating new rules for the two casinos. The Ministry added that this will be addressed through a new Casino Control (Amendment) bill. However, it didn’t mention when the new rules will arrive.

Proxy Betting to be Illegal

Once the Gambling Control Bill becomes law, which could happen before the end of this summer, proxy betting will be forbidden. This includes formal and informal proxies – friends won’t be able to place wagers for friends.

The prohibition on proxy betting stems from several different issues. If a proxy bettor is able to place a bet, it bypasses financial safeguards designed to prevent money laundering. This runs afoul of the guidelines established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The FATF doesn’t have the legal authority to act against those who violate internationally-established laws. However, its recommendations are almost always supported by the global financial community. Failure to appease the agency can make it difficult for countries to have open trade and economies.

Proxy betting doesn’t stop problem gambling, either. If someone has self-excluded or has been excluded by family members, a proxy bettor bypasses that control.

Previously, proxy betting was not a criminal offense. However, it is now. But the punishments are still in the works.

Entering a gambling area as an underage individual will also be a criminal offense. The good news is that the legal ages aren’t changing. The legal age for gambling is 21 everywhere, except at Singapore Pools locations. The legal age for these sports betting and lottery shops are 18.

“Social gambling” is still on the table. This includes any gambling activity among family and friends. However, it cannot be treated as a business or be done for private gain.

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