New Singapore gambling regulatory delayed due to pandemic

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Singapore casinos mandate fully vaccination for entry

A new Singapore gambling regulator is further away than expected with the launch of a new authority delayed due to COVID-19.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the transformation of Singapore’s casino and remote gambling regulators into a single body has been delayed.

Originally planned to be up and running by early 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced in 2020 that the new Gambling Regulatory Authority would see the current Casino Regulatory Authority, which oversees Singapore’s two casinos, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, and the Gambling Regulatory Unit, which regulates remote gambling services and poker machines, come under one umbrella.

That merger process is now underway, however the CRA said in its 2020/21 Annual Report, that the transformation of the current bodies into the GRA has taken longer than expected as a result of the pandemic.

“With most employees working from home during the pandemic, it has not been easy for CRA officers to prepare for GRA, as much of the developmental work requires intensive face-to-face discussions, “ CRA Chairman Tan Tee How said.

“Notwithstanding this, I am happy to see that officers have persevered and achieved much despite the new working conditions.

“In addition, CRA officers worked relentlessly to ensure the CRA’s supervision of the casino industry remains thorough and robust.”

Preparatory work to reform Singapore’s gambling framework is well underway

CRA chief executive officer Teo Chun Ching added that “significant progress” has been made in preparatory works for CRA’s reconstitution to GRA.

“Reviews are ongoing to rationalise and consolidate gambling legislation and regulatory framework for both existing and emerging gambling products to ensure that the entire gambling landscape will be regulated in a risk-calibrated and holistic manner,” he said.

“To enhance our capabilities and processes, we have also been focusing on digital, process and workforce transformation efforts.

“This is necessary to make us more effective and efficient in our work to keep Singapore safe from the potential harms and undesirable by-effects of gambling.

“Even after GRA is formed, transformation will remain an ongoing journey for us to stay agile in a dynamic and increasingly complex operating environment.

The CRA’s annual report revealed that the new GRA will revamp a number of processes, including the addition of a new training curriculum for officers, implementation of a new licensing system and an extension of the maximum tenure for special employee licences from three years to seven years.

The latter, it said, would allow the GRA to “better calibrate special employee licences according to various considerations such as job functions and risk profiles.”

New technologies a focus for new regulator

The new body will also focus on promoting new technologies such as digital payment solutions, the CRA explained.

“The consolidation of regulatory functions under a single regulator serves to ensure that Singapore keeps up with trends in the global gaming landscape, while taking a holistic approach in formulating regulatory policies,” Tan said.

“For GRA to be effective in carrying out its new functions, we must strive to be a smart regulator by anticipating trends and risks and by entrenching risk management in our decision making.

“This entails, for example, the deepening of our sense-making and data analytics capabilities. To this end, GRA would dedicate resources to conduct deep-dive research and environmental scans of the gambling landscape. We will need to closely understand emerging products and trends in order to strengthen evidence-based policy formulation.

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