Non-casino gambling rules being reviewed

SINGAPORE - The Government is reviewing its regulatory framework for non-casino gambling and is studying how it can cover online gambling.

Online gaming is a growing concern and the Government is looking at how better rules and social safeguards can be applied, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S Iswaran said in Parliament yesterday.

He noted that online gambling on social media and mobile devices is growing in many countries. The Government will study what other countries are doing. For example, the US state of Nevada issues licences for operators to offer online poker.

Mr Iswaran also said that of the total number of casino entry levies paid by locals last year, less than one per cent were annual entry levies. The rest were daily entry levies.

He was responding to suggestions from several members that the Government scrap the annual casino entry levies. The annual levy is $2,000 while the daily entry levy is $100.

The figures showed this was hardly a loophole as suggested by some members.

Mr Iswaran added that the entry levy system is just one part of a framework of social safeguard measures, which also include exclusion orders and visit limits.

Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, said that without the combined efforts of the gambler, his family and community and Government intervention, problem gambling cannot be holistically tackled.

He was speaking in response to MPs who had asked the Government to tighten rules to curb problem gambling.

Mr Iswaran added that the measures should not be too blunt. A targeted approach involving measures such as exclusion orders and visit limits is effective in managing problem gamblers, he said.

He also reassured MPs who questioned the effectiveness of the visit limits. They were concerned that this could lead to bigger bets.

Monitored

Mr Iswaran said the situation would be monitored carefully and if a gambler was found to have intensified his habits, the National Council of Problem Gambling could step in to stop such a person from visiting the casinos.

Casino operators will also be required to promote responsible gambling.

Parliament yesterday passed amendments to the Casino Control Bill.

These include provisions to limit the number of times vulnerable people visit the two casinos in Singapore.

Wrapping up the debate, Mr Iswaran acknowledged the strong and diverse views expressed by members.


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