Singapore has a new gambling authority that will govern gambling institutions that operate in the country, such as Vulkan Vegas. The new gambling authority, called Gambling Regulatory Authority or GRA, is now operational. The GRA and its authority took effect on the first day of August 2022.
The question that lingers in the mind of many gambling operators and gamblers now is: what should people expect from the GRA?
The GRA is under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Essentially, the GRA is now a consolidated regulator. It is the one responsible for the gambling industry in the country. It must stay ahead of the curve and also watch out for technological developments and trends in the gambling industry.
For example, if there are new gambling products in the world, it is the GRA responsible for checking these new games. They must also decide if they want to allow these new trends and technologies to permeate the country.
The GRA must respond to these emerging trends. On top of that, the GRA is also expected to take a holistic approach to managing gambling institutions. They must enact policies that will guarantee the success of the gambling sector without compromising the security of the players.
So far, here is a summary of the scope of the GRA:
- All lotteries and betting from Singapore pools that include private and limited activities;
- Companies that operate machine rooms;
- Companies that operate gambling facilities;
- Tombola games in both public and private establishments;
- Private gambling between families and friends: for example, playing mahjong in a private place;
- Video games that offer gambling-like activities, like selling loot boxes where the prize is not known;
- Companies that operate games of chance.
GRA will also tackle companies that offer promotions that involve a game of chance. For example, if a company asks people to participate in a survey and exchange, they will give a raffle ticket—this is considered a game of chance even if the survey participant did not invest money.
If a company uses a lottery to aid in its marketing efforts, the GRA also has a say. For example, some companies may ask their buyers to send labels of soap as a raffle ticket—this falls under GRA approval.
Apart from these responsibilities, the GRA must work with the Ministry of Social and Family Development. They also have a dotted line to work with the National Council on Problem Gambling.
Working with these other departments aims to ensure that the players have an organization to depend on if they ever develop a gambling addiction.
Meanwhile, the police force of Singapore is the one that is expected to uphold the laws against gambling. They have the authority to act against illegal gambling operators.
With the advent of the GRA, the gambling laws of Singapore went through some overhaul. These changes are in compliance with the GC Act, which consolidates unlawful gambling activities under one law.
There were several acts that the GRA’s new act repealed. These are:
- Betting Act
- Common Gaming Houses Act
- Private Lotteries
- Remote Gambling Act
Now, only the GC Act is active, and it is the GRA that has the power to implement it. The GRA is also the one who is going to use gambling licenses for operators from now on.
Here are some of the types of gambling where the GRA will issue licenses:
- Gambling rooms
- Gaming rooms
- Private gambling establishments
Because of their authority, the GRA is also the one responsible for reviewing the activities of the businesses that got a license. The GRA will also hold them accountable for their violations. In addition, it can suspend licenses.
The GC Act, meanwhile, is introducing a new concept. Now, there is a new class licensing. This class applies to low-risk gambling products. For example, a business can facilitate gambling through a lucky raw, like winning a car.
As always, a business establishment that wants to provide this type of draw or lottery must meet the requires of the GC Act and the GRA before it can expect a license.
The GC Act also introduces social gambling. Now, people like friends and family can gamble in their houses. The thing is, this social gambling prohibits people from gambling online. They also cannot use it on social platforms.
If anyone is caught facilitating social gambling online, even if the participants are friends and family, the police of Singapore has the authority to capture and then uphold the law.
Furthermore, the GC Act has a 3-tier penalty for people who are found guilty of violating the law. The law applies to both physical gambling and online gambling. There is also a delineation between punters, agents, and operators.
Overall, the operators are the ones who will suffer the steepest penalties, as they are ultimately responsible. Agents and bettors will not receive extreme penalties if they are caught violating the law.
The GRA is also responsible for the approval of importing machines like jackpots and slot machines. If a gambling operator who has secured a license to operate a gambling facility wants to add machines, they need to speak to the GRA and seek documented approval.