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SCCG Research: An examination of gambling regulations in Singapore and Malaysia

Below, SCCG Research partners with Gambling Insider to provide an exclusive excerpt of its new report, where it examines gambling regulation in the Asian jurisdictions of Singapore and Malaysia.

SingaporeMalaysia

Introduction

Gambling, a practice steeped in socio-cultural traditions and modern economic systems, manifests differently in various parts of the world, shaped by multiple factors, from religious beliefs to legal constraints. Southeast Asia, Singapore and Malaysia present compelling case studies, their diverse societies and distinct regulatory frameworks providing intriguing insights into the complex nature of gambling.

This article considers the complexities of the gambling landscape in these two nations. We delve into the governing bodies and legislative measures shaping the industry, explore the cultural influences on gambling norms, and highlight the entities operating within the bounds of the law.

Singapore and Malaysia, while geographically close, embody stark differences in their approach to gambling. Singapore, known for its strict yet well-defined regulatory framework, has constructed a thriving legal gambling sector while combating potential societal harm. On the other hand, Malaysia, with a Muslim-majority population, demonstrates a more nuanced regulatory environment, with religious principles playing a significant role in shaping gambling policies.

The following sections will walk through the regulatory bodies of each country, the laws that form the bedrock of their gambling sectors, and the entities permitted to operate within the legal framework. Our discussion will also address the cultural and demographic restrictions in place, demonstrating how Singapore and Malaysia, despite sharing specific historical and cultural ties, have charted unique paths in their approach to gambling.

Singapore and Malaysia, while geographically close, embody stark differences in their approach to gambling

Gambling regulation in Singapore

A careful balance marks Singapore's approach to gambling regulation: fostering economic growth while safeguarding societal values. The Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are at the forefront of Singapore’s regulatory efforts.

The CRA, established under the purview of the MHA, is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the country's casinos. Its mandate includes ensuring that the management and operation of casinos remain free from criminal influence and that gaming is conducted honestly. Moreover, it strives to contain the potential harm to society and individuals from the casino sector.

To further bolster this regulatory framework, Singapore has enacted robust legislation. The Casino Control Act (CCA), passed in 2006, provides the legal backdrop for the operation of casinos in Singapore. Under this Act, Singaporeans and permanent residents must pay a daily or annual entry levy to enter a casino, deterring casual and impulsive gambling.

Another cornerstone of Singapore's gambling legislation is the Remote Gambling Act (RGA), enacted in 2014. The RGA regulates all forms of remote gambling, including Internet and telephone betting. Unless specifically exempted, it generally prohibits remote gambling activities as a barrier to unauthorised remote gambling services.

In a measured step towards digital evolution, the Government has granted exemptions to two operators under the RGA: Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club. Singapore Pools offers lottery and sports betting online, while the Turf Club offers remote betting on horse races. Operating not-for-profit entities are committed to ensuring that their games remain free of criminal influence while promoting social safeguards to minimise problem gambling.

Through this intricate mesh of regulatory bodies, legislation and controlled exemptions, Singapore presents a distinctive paradigm of gambling regulation – a model that marries economic opportunity with societal wellbeing.

A careful balance marks Singapore's approach to gambling regulation: fostering economic growth while safeguarding societal values

Gambling regulation in Malaysia

Gambling in Malaysia unfolds within a regulatory landscape characterised by a blend of secular laws and Islamic principles, overseen by several government entities. The Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), and the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) play pivotal roles in managing and enforcing the nation's gambling regulations.

The MoF, wielding overarching authority, administers several Acts governing the country's legal gambling activities. These include the Lotteries Act 1952, the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 and the Betting Act 1953. The limited legal forms of gambling permissible under these laws include lotteries, horseracing and one land-based casino, the Genting Highlands Resort.

Malaysia’s Government has acknowledged that current gambling laws do not adequately address the complexities associated with regulating online gambling. The Government is currently using the Common Gaming Houses Act of 195, and the Betting Act of 1953 to generally prosecute companies that offer casino-like services, but the legislation is not clear and makes access to offshore casino gambling sites within Malaysia complicated to manage.

While the MoF regulates these legal forms of gambling, the MCMC, the nation's primary regulator for the communications and multimedia sector, has a significant role in monitoring online gambling. They can block access to online gambling sites in Malaysia, contributing to the overall regulatory enforcement.

Further strengthening the enforcement arm of Malaysia's gambling laws is the RMP, which upholds law and order and ensures the country's gambling laws' rigorous application, by conducting raids on illegal gambling establishments.

Gambling in Malaysia unfolds within a regulatory landscape characterised by a blend of secular laws and Islamic principles, overseen by several government entities

The Malaysia Prime Minister, however, has announced a push for the MoF to review existing gambling laws to introduce amendments that will allow business, law enforcement and regulators clearer guidance on the enforcement and regulation of licensed gambling and online gambling. This process is currently underway.

As we navigate the regulatory maze, it's essential to note that Malaysia's regulatory approach doesn't apply uniformly to its population. Malaysia's Muslim majority is subject to Islamic law or Sharia, which prohibits gambling. Consequently, while non-Muslims can engage in limited legal gambling forms, most forms of gambling are off-limits for the Muslim population.

Malaysia's gambling landscape reflects the intricate dance between secular governance and religious norms, creating a complex, multilayered regulatory environment. This multi-faceted approach aims to uphold societal values while navigating the realities of diverse demographic inclinations toward gambling.

You can read the full report exclusively at SCCG Research.

* Citations and references are available in the full report


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