'Mystery vending machines' a form of public lottery, merchants told to stop operations: Police

'Mystery vending machines' a form of public lottery, merchants told to stop operations: Police
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Vending machines offering "mystery" prizes may soon be a thing of the past, after the police issued a public advisory against them on Thursday (Aug 16).

In a news release, the police said they are aware some merchants are operating such machines in public areas, which dispense random prizes upon receipt of cash payment.

"As this is a form of public lottery, it is an offence under Section 5(a) of the Common Gaming Houses Act," they added.

"Existing merchants operating such vending machines are advised to cease these operations. Police will take enforcement actions against merchants who continue to contravene the law."

Those found guilty face a prison term not exceeding five years, and are also liable to be fined an amount not less than $20,000 and not more than $200,000.

The past few years have seen in an increase in the number of such vending machines around Singapore, which are popular with both young and old.

Typically found in shopping malls, they usually charge $10 for the public to purchase a "mystery box" containing a prize.

While the boxes usually contain low-value items, such as cheap coin pouches or USB chargers, vending machine companies often claim that big prizes such as a smartphone or a Kate Spade handbag are there to be won.

The Straits Times has contacted the police for more information.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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