Singapore’s New Social Gambling Laws Take Hold

By | August 1, 2022

Singapore is laying down the law when it comes to what it deems social gambling. So beginning today, inviting friends over for an impromptu game of poker is no longer illegal.

Merlion at the Singapore River
Merlion, Singapore’s world-famous landmark, at Marina Bay. The country is modernizing its gambling laws to better define the industry. (Image: Nations Online Project)

Over the past few years, Singapore has been working on an upgrade to its gambling laws. Since the beginning of the year, its efforts have increased and a lot more progress has been made.

Previously, hosting a home poker or mahjong game that included wagers wasn’t necessarily illegal but, instead, operated in a grey area. The new Gambling Control Act (GCA) eliminates that doubt for some activities.

Social Gambling Acceptable

The gambling landscape everywhere is in a constant state of flux. New options arrive, mostly through the advance of online gaming, while others disappear. Absent in Singapore’s gambling laws was a catch-all that covered all gambling options not specifically defined.

The government is working to change that. There is now a new Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) in place, which will oversee all forms of gambling. It replaces the previous Casino Regulatory Authority and has more autonomy to establish policies and protocols for the industry.

This includes forming definitions for what is legal social gambling. For example, under the GRA, hosting a friendly mahjong tournament or poker game is legally on the table.

However, there are some conditions. The games must take place in someone’s home, not a commercial property. In addition, they cannot be part of any business-related activity.

In Singapore, gamblers need to be at least 21 years old, except for those visiting Singapore Pools locations. The lottery and sports betting shops can welcome anyone 18 years old or older. However, for social gambling, unless the country changes its mind, there is no minimum age for participation.

Social gambling refers to physical events, not digital. Online social gambling is still illegal. The GRA, police, the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the National Council on Problem Gambling will collaborate to ensure social gambling, as well as other forms, don’t get out of hand.

Land-Based Gambling Changes Coming

Going forward, private businesses that want to host gambling activities, such as betting or lotteries, will need to have a license. The GRA is responsible for issuing the licenses, and will investigate the applicants who apply.

It will also monitor those establishments to ensure they follow the rules. Among these will is a ban on proxy betting. This is a common, albeit not widespread, practice that allows a gambling addict to circumvent the controls that prevent him or her from entering a gaming floor.

A gambler faces fines for using a proxy gambler, as does the proxy. In addition, casinos can be held accountable, as well.

The GRA is going to introduce new class licenses to cover different forms of gambling – a lottery to promote a business doesn’t need to be in the same class as a casino. However, any form of gambling, except social, will now require a license. Violators can anticipate severe financial penalties from the GRA, even for minor infractions.

The post Singapore’s New Social Gambling Laws Take Hold appeared first on Casino.org.

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