Stricter rules for jackpot machines: Clubs to take steps to meet stricter rules

People playing jackpot machines at the Singapore Recreation Club.
People playing jackpot machines at the Singapore Recreation Club. PHOTO: ST FILE
Jackpot machines at PA HQ.
Jackpot machines at PA HQ.ST PHOTO
A jackpot machine at the Temasek Club.
A jackpot machine at the Temasek Club. ST PHOTO
Jackpot machine at The Cue Club at New World Centre.
Jackpot machine at The Cue Club at New World Centre.ST PHOTO

Several social clubs operating jackpot machines say they are already complying with certain new measures for jackpot rooms, while others say they will take steps to meet the tighter rules.

The changes, announced yesterday by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and set to take effect over the next two years, include more stringent criteria in the renewal and application of jackpot permits.

Also, those with casino exclusions due to financial situations or family objections will be excluded from the jackpot machine rooms starting in May next year.

In response to media queries, NTUC Club, which has jackpot rooms in four of its clubhouses and a facility in Downtown East, said it has already adopted the voluntary Centralised Self-Exclusion Scheme, facilitated by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), since May 2014.

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Currently, a total of 25 private clubs have done so but from May next year, all such clubs operating jackpot rooms will be required to take on the scheme and offer self-exclusion, said the NCPG.

An NTUC Club spokesman added that it is also a member of the Responsible Gambling Forum, supporting responsible gaming initiatives. It will work with the authorities to implement the new measures in the next months, he said.


Scarlet City at Ang Mo Kio Hub. ST PHOTO

 
 

Despite the potential impact on its operations, a HomeTeamNS spokesman said it understands the need for more stringent criteria and tighter operating conditions.

  • 82

    Number of jackpot venues.

    1,900

    Number of jackpot machines in operation now.

"Notwithstanding the potential impact on our operations, we will endeavour to meet the new regulatory requirements in the next few months," he added.

It has 120 fruit machines in four of its clubhouses, said the spokesman. Jackpot machine takings accounted for 38.5 per cent of its total revenue in its last financial year.

Meanwhile, Safra, which has six clubhouses in areas such as Yishun and Toa Payoh, said it would study the potential impact of regulations on its operations, and how to fulfil the regulatory requirements. Its spokesman said it has an average of 20 jackpot machines per club.

There are currently about 82 jackpot venues, operating nearly 1,900 jackpot machines, a spike from 1,600 in 1996.

In recent years, private lotteries duties from jackpot machine operations have amounted to about $210 million annually, said MHA.


The jackpot room at Downtown east. ST PHOTO

But "over time, a number of clubs have relied on fruit machines as a major activity", it added.

Some clubs said they do not depend on income from jackpot machines. Singapore Island Country Club's director of marketing and communications Cheang Sai Ming said SICC has "many operational income streams" and offers "various sport and recreational activities" for members' use, and it will comply with the additional measures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'Clubs to take steps to meet stricter rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe