Passes second Parliamentary reading
Singapore Home Affairs Second Minister Mr. S Iswaran expanded on the 23/2014 Remote Gaming Bill at a second reading before Parliament today (Tuesday).
The Bill was under debate for three hours involving 10 Members of Parliament (MEP) who voiced their reservations on the allowance of exemptions under the law.
The proposal makes an allowance for a tightly controlled exemption regime with an extensive set of safeguards that Iswaran said would prevent punters being forced to play on the black market, a similar scenario that Singapore practices with terrestrial gambling.
However, MEP's questioned whether the exemptions would send mixed signals by "legitimising the act of gambling and breeding its acceptance by legally providing for exempt licensed operators".
"A complete ban on remote gambling might appear straightforward but would likely drive these activities underground, and exacerbate the associated law and order and social concerns," Iswaran said. "The provision of a strictly regulated exempt operator can help to mitigate these concerns. This has been our experience with, and approach to, terrestrial gambling."
Criteria for an exempt operator include a physical presence in Singapore and be a not-for-profit entity with proceeds distributed to public, social and charitable purposes in Singapore. The operator would be restricted from offering casino-style games and poker.
Allaying fears of the bill having an adverse effect on the social gaming industry, Iswaran said games that use virtual currencies and in-game credits will not be prohibited as these cannot be converted for real money outside of the game, however, remote gambling whose virtual currencies can be monetised or exchanged for real-value-goods will be banned
The bill will "restrict remote gambling by criminalising the entire spectrum of remote gambling activities and imposing blocking measures" and "provide our enforcement agencies with the powers to tackle remote gambling and its associated concerns decisively," Iswaran told Parliamen"These measures, together with enhanced public education and engagement initiatives, will allow us to address our law and order concerns, and protect young and other vulnerable persons from the potential harms of remote gambling," Iswaran concluded.
The full proposal can be accessed here: http://www.parliament.gov.sg/sites/default/files/Remote%20Gambling%20Bill%2023-2014.pdf
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