The Gambling Control Act 2022 and the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Act 2022 were passed into law by the Singapore parliament on 11 March 2022 and came into effect on 1 August 2022.
The legislation has three key objectives:
- Addressing emerging trends and products associated with gambling
- Ensuring consistency in the regulatory treatment of the different products associated with gambling
- Enhancing social safeguards
The key changes introduced by the new laws are as follows:
- The definitions of ‘gambling’ and ‘betting’ were expanded to address existing and emerging products associated with gambling that were not previously included.
- The various regulations relating to gambling were harmonised into a single, combined framework.
- New laws and duties to protect vulnerable persons were introduced.
We elaborate further on these revisions below.
Expanded definition of gambling
The Gambling Control Act (GCA) updated the definitions of certain key terms, as the old definitions were found to be too specific and failed to capture emerging products associated with gambling in our modern society.
For example, the scope of ‘betting’ as defined in the now-repealed Betting Act 1960 only included horse-racing and other sporting events. However, there are, for example, emerging platforms that accept bets on the outcomes of e-sports and gaming tournaments, which would not be covered, and hence not considered as an offence, under previous legislation.
The GCA resolved this by amending the definition of ‘betting’ to include “the outcome of a race, competition, sporting event or other event or process”. This adoption of a technology-neutral stance ensured that the definition covered both existing and emerging gambling products.
Regulation of gambling
Under the GCA, all gambling activities are regulated under one of three regimes:
- The Licensing Regime
- The Class-Licensing Regime
- The Social Gambling Exception
The Licensing Regime replaces the various gambling permits and exemption regimes of the past.
Gambling products covered under the Licensing Regime include:
- Fruit machines in recreational clubs
- Singapore Pools’ products
- Gambling among members at private establishments such as recreational clubs and societies
Previously, private establishments were not required to apply for a licence in order to allow gambling on their premises. They were able to allow gambling as long as they met certain stipulated conditions.
Under the Licensing Regime, such establishments are now required to apply for a licence and undergo screening of key personnel in order to assess their eligibility to hold a gambling operator licence in Singapore.
The Class-Licensing Regime was introduced to regulate gambling products assessed to be of a lower risk. Under this regime, designated gambling services may be provided without the need to apply for a licence from the GRA as long as the conditions set out in the following Minister’s Orders are complied with.
Gambling products covered under the Class-Licensing Regime include:
- Cause-related games of chance and lotteries
- Survey-related games of chance and lotteries
- Trade promotion games of chance and lotteries
- Fundraiser lotteries
- Remote games of chance
- Incidental games of chance and lotteries
- Mystery boxes