The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be amending the gambling legislation later this year to ensure that the laws and regulations remain effective in the face of evolving gambling products and business models.
Amendments will be made to areas including the definition of gambling, social gambling, arcade games and claw machines, and online games.
MHA is also looking to raise penalties for repeat offenders who facilitate or operate illegal gambling services in order to increase deterrence.
Definition of gambling
MHA is proposing to amend the definition of gambling to make it technology-neutral so that it can cover existing and emerging gambling products.
However, the broader definition may cover products that MHA has no intention of treating as gambling products, for example, financial products already regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Such products will then be carved out from the definition of gambling.
As gambling among family and friends in homes is socially acceptable among many Singaporeans, MHA proposes to exempt physical social gambling among family and friends, subject to conditions that safeguard against criminal exploitation.
This means that social gambling among family and friends will be explicitly permitted under legislation.
Online social gambling among family and friends, however, is not going to be exempted.
Mystery boxes, arcade games and claw machines
In its statement, MHA shared that it is careful not to over-regulate, recognising that many Singaporeans consider such games as a form of entertainment.
In order to ensure that such activities do not induce gambling behaviour, the ministry proposes to introduce a prize cap of S$100 for mystery boxes, arcade games and claw machines.
According to a survey by MHA, about 70 per cent and 68 per cent of respondents agreed that S$100 is an appropriate cap for mystery boxes and arcade games respectively.
Online games of chance with virtual prizes
The ministry is looking to introduce conditions to ensure that transferable virtual items are retained in the context of gameplay and entertainment, as intended by game developers.
Online games of chance that allow players to use virtual items from other games as a form of stake on casino games or match outcomes, such as skin-betting sites, will not be allowed.
It is also proposing to allow in-game monetisation facilities for free-to-play games, subject to conditions similar to those imposed on currently-exempted business promotion lucky draws.
Low number of crimes
MHA added that gambling-related crimes remain low in Singapore.
Casino crimes have contributed to less than 1 per cent of overall crime since the opening of the Integrated Resorts in 2010.
Problem gambling also remains under control, based on the surveys conducted by the National Council Problem Gambling.
For greater clarity on gambling law in Singapore prior to these proposed amendments, check out “Private Gambling in Singapore: Is It Legal?” on our website.
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