Singapore has been moving on with plans to assemble the different gambling regulatory frameworks in one place but the task turned out to be harder than initially expected.
For the time being, casino companies that operate in the country are subject to one regulatory body, while online gambling operators are monitored by another one. If the regulatory oversight over the sector is unified, that would make the entire process of regulation and monitoring a lot simpler, but Singapore has been facing some obstacles on its way due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country has been expected to introduce its new gambling regulatory framework earlier in 2021 but because of the delay, there is still no clear deadline for the local authorities to unveil the new regulatory structure.
Singapore Set to Create the Gambling Regulatory Authority as Single Gambling Watchdog
The coronavirus pandemic has been a major problem for the regulation of the gambling sector in Singapore. In 2020, the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MRA) started working on some plans to bring significant changes to the industry, saying at the time that it expected to introduce at least some of the new rules or initiatives over the first quarter of 2021.
However, the Covid-19 infection has become a major factor for the process to start, so the Ministry’s efforts have faced a massive roadblock almost every time.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has been willing to combine two already existing regulators – the Gambling Regulatory Unit (GRU) and the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) – into one single watchdog called the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA).
Currently, the GRU is responsible for the regulation of remote gambling services, as well as for the country’s “fruit machines”, which are actually slot machines that are not based only on luck as they feature an element of skill. On the other hand, the CRA is in charge of monitoring the brick-and-mortar casino venues in the country, which are currently Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands.
The Casino Regulatory Authority is the largest gambling watchdog in Singapore and is leading the combination of the two bodies into one regulator. Earlier this week, it revealed that the process of merging the CRA and the GRU into one regulator is being delayed because of some difficulties associated with the global Covid-19 pandemic, as it has been hard for the CRA officers to prepare for the merger because the process requires intensive discussions that need to be held face-to-face.
New Gambling Regulator Launch Could Be Delayed until Q2 of 2022
Although the process of the establishment of a single gambling regulatory body in the country has not been going on as initially planned, the delays that are being faced by Singapore throughout the process are not necessarily all bad news.
The additional time that local authorities have received as a result of the Covid-19-related delay also provided them with more flexibility to discuss the future work of the Gambling Regulatory Authority, as well as how the new watchdog is to prepare the future gambling legislation of the country. Once it is up and running, the GRA will have to unveil a number of new processes such as new licensing procedures, as well as additional training, and the delay of the initial timeframe allows everyone involved to take all aspects of the process into consideration before making a final decision on the issues.
As mentioned above, the MHA has not announced a definitive launch date for the GRA due to the ongoing delays. According to reports, the new gambling regulator may not be ready to start operation until the second quarter of 2022, or ideally, the first quarter of next year.