In latest news Singapore’s two integrated casino resorts Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa will be regulated by a new gaming authority in the island city-state beginning in 2021. The integrated resorts are currently governed by the Singapore Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA). The agency is responsible for ensuring that the management and operation of the casinos are carried out by suitable people and that the properties remain free from criminal influence and exploitation.
Gambling regulation in Singapore is currently overseen by various Government agencies. CRA regulates the casinos, while the Gambling Regulatory Unit in MHA regulates remote gambling services and fruit machines. The Singapore Totalisator Board governs terrestrial gambling services operated by the Singapore Pools. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) takes enforcement action against illegal gambling activities. In addition, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is responsible for social safeguards to address the harms of gambling and also regulates the advertising and promotion of gambling, as well as the Responsible Gambling Programmes of regulated entities.
The CRA additionally guarantees that each casino’s gaming operations are conducted fairly and honestly and that gambling doesn’t result in harm to minors, vulnerable people, or society at large. But beginning in 2021, Singapore officials say the CRA will be no more. Instead, the city-state will launch the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA).
Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) 2021
On 3 April 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that a new Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) will be formed by 2021 to control all gambling activities in Singapore, as opposed to having many agencies regulating it like the Casino Regulatory Authority (which only regulates casinos), the MHA’s Gambling Regulatory Unit (which controls fruit machines and remote gambling activities) and Tote Board (which manages Singapore Pools). The Singapore Police Force will continue enforcement against illegal gambling activities with the Ministry of Social and Family Development dealing with gambling issues. At the same time, current gambling laws will be reviewed and amended with the intention to regulate activities traditionally not seen as gambling, like mystery boxes.
Las Vegas Sands and Genting Group, parent companies to the two Singapore casinos, agreed last year to each further invest $3.3 billion into their properties. In exchange, Singapore agreed to continue the operators’ duopoly on casino gambling through January 2031.
Singapore legalized commercial gambling and authorized two IR permits in 2005. Now, 15 years later, the city-state believes an updated gaming regulatory agency is needed.
The GRA will condense several regulatory units into one agency. Under the current arrangement, the CRA regulates land-based operations at Marina Bay Sands and RW Sentosa, while the Gambling Regulatory Unit of the Ministry of Home Affairs is tasked with supervising remote and offshore gambling.
COVID-19 Impact on Singapore Casinos
Singapore forced its two casinos to suspend operations in early April to slow the spread of COVID-19. They remained dark until July 1, the first day the CRA allowed them to welcome back guests.
The CRA has required the casinos to implement numerous safeguards to protect workers and guests. Gamblers must undergo temperature screenings, and wear face masks while inside.
Only Annual Levy Holders and casino rewards members can presently access the casino floors. Singaporeans who want to gamble can pay $2,220 for an annual ticket entry.
The CRA official, said as of now, COVID-19 has not disrupted the city-state’s progression of establishing the Gambling Regulatory Authority.
GRA will work with partners such as MSF and the National Council on Problem Gambling to ensure that the harms of gambling continue to be adequately addressed. SPF will continue to enforce the laws against illegal gambling activities.
The Government has enacted different laws that govern various gambling products, including lotteries, gaming houses, casinos, and remote gambling. These laws address risks specific to a distinct mode of gambling, and in a particular setting. For example, the Private Lotteries Act only regulates terrestrial private lotteries, which are physical gambling operations such as fruit machine rooms, while the Remote Gambling Act only regulates gambling activities conducted via remote communications (for e.g. the Internet and telephone).
MHA will review and amend all gambling legislation by 2021 to ensure that our regulatory mechanisms can effectively address evolving gambling products and business models. For example, they will study the need to regulate products such as “mystery boxes”. They will also review the penalties for offences to ensure consistency across remote and terrestrial gambling. (input from various news sources)