Monday, 26 Jul 2021

Public feedback sought on proposed legalisation of in-person gambling in S'pore among family, friends

SINGAPORE – There will be a proposal to permit social gambling in person among family and friends, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday (July 12).

In a release, the MHA said it would be amending gambling laws later this year and invited feedback from the public on the proposed amendments.

It recognised that family and friends gambling at home is a socially acceptable practice among Singaporeans, and that such practices present low risk to law-and-order.

But while MHA intends to exempt such activities when conducted in person, it proposes that online social gambling among friends and family still not be permitted under the law due to enforcement difficulties.

Another key area the ministry intends to amend relates to games with gambling elements.

It noted that because of factors such as technological advancements and changing consumer tastes, the lines between gambling and gaming have become increasingly blurred.

It proposes that a $100 prize cap for mystery boxes, arcade games, and claw machines be introduced to address the inducement effect of high-value prizes.

It also proposes that the laws be updated to address games with loot boxes and virtual skins.

The MHA said it intends to “introduce conditions” to ensure such transferable game items remain in the context of gameplay and entertainment.

It proposes that games and services of chance that let players use these items to make bets or gamble, such as skin-betting sites, will be banned.

However, it also proposes that in-game monetisation facilities for free-to-play games be allowed, but that these be subjected to current conditions similar to lucky draw promotions by businesses.

It added that penalties for repeat offenders under gambling laws should be raised to increase deterrence, but that this should focus on those who facilitate or operate such services, and not those who simply participate in illegal gambling.

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The MHA said Singapore adopts a strict but practical approach in its regulation of gambling.

“It is not practical nor desirable, in fact, to disallow all forms of gambling, as this will just drive it underground, and cause more law and order issues,” it said.

“Instead, we license or exempt some gambling activities, with strict safeguards put in place. Our laws governing gambling seek to maintain law and order, and minimise social harm caused by problem gambling.”

Views and suggestions from the public on the proposals are welcome, and the full report on the MHA’s proposals can be found here.

The public is asked to submit feedback to MHA by Aug 10, and may do so by sending e-mails to this address, or mailing the MHA at New Phoenix Park, 28 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329560, with the subject of their mail listed as Re: Gambling Legislation Consultation.

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