Singapore holds inauguration ceremony for new gambling regulator

Singapore holds inauguration ceremony for new gambling regulator

During an inauguration ceremony on Monday attended by executives and Singapore officials, the country inaugurated its new gambling regulator. Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore (GRA) is the result of extensive work to overhaul the country’s gambling laws and modernize them in a way that properly reflects consumer and business demands, while putting an emphasis on responsible gambling.

The ceremony was marked by a speech by Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo who welcomed the establishment of the new regulator. Teo praised the efforts that attendees had put in making sure that the regulator can see the light of day. The new watchdog takes over the functions of its predecessor, the Casino Regulatory Division.

Teo spoke about the long road Singapore has come. The country-state agreed to regulate and establish casino resorts in 2005 and despite a fierce debate on the subject, Singapore moved in favor of such projects. In her own admittance, the country was not well-equipped to navigate the industry of its entirety.

"Nobody knew how to regulate casinos," Teo said during her speech on Monday. However, GRA is taking over CRA which left the industry in a good standing. Casino-related crime has been low in Singapore, with under 1% of all crime. The country has also done significant efforts to develop help programs to people who may suffer from gambling addiction, aided by the National Council on Problem Gambling and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

However, GRA will need to step in as CRA passes on the baton, Teo said. One of the needs for this to happen is the shift in technology which has made the gambling landscape to navigate.

Consumer preferences have also evolved and shifted, with new products that often blur the lines between entertainment and gambling now posing a serious challenge to the authorities of regulators and how far they can step in to contravene what they believe is illegal gambling.

This is why a regulator such as GRA is designed to work in this new context and the new realities of the gambling industry, Teo explained. GRA consolidates "our regulatory frameworks and expertise within a single agency," she noted. To be an effective tool and regulator, though, GRA will not be able to simply replicate its predecessor’s work.

It will have to make an honest effort to stay abreast with global trends, monitor developments in the industry and see how the gambling landscape will be impacted by both. To protect consumers, Singapore will have to continually work on improving and fine-tuning its regulatory frameworks.

All of this should be made possible through the Gambling Control Act which Parliament in Singapore passed earlier this year, which should "future-proof" the industry and help it brace for whatever may be coming down the road.

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