Remote Gambling Act that takes effect on Feb 2 will not affect gaming industry, says MDA

The new Remote Gambling Act, which outlaws remote gambling activities here, does not cover games so long as players cannot win cash prizes from them. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The new Remote Gambling Act, which outlaws remote gambling activities here, does not cover games so long as players cannot win cash prizes from them. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - The new Remote Gambling Act, which outlaws remote gambling activities here, does not cover games so long as players cannot win cash prizes from them.

The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) said on Wednesday that online games which do not have any in-game facility to convert virtual goods and currency into real money will not fall afoul of the new regulations.

It also clarified that the Act does not prohibit leader-boards - which rank and reward top players - or tournaments where players can win prizes or money in real life, as long as they are not "casino-style" games.

Games like Farmville and Candy Crush Saga - in their current forms - are therefore not affected.

This is in response to concerns from those in the gaming industry that the Act would cover social games and affect their business.

Passed in Parliament last October, the Act will make it illegal for gamblers to go online for a flutter on unauthorised websites from Feb 2. It is also illegal to facilitate others to gamble illegally, or for operators to provide unauthorised remote gambling services.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday: "The objectives of regulating remote gambling are to maintain law and order and to minimise the potential harm of remote gambling, especially to young persons and other vulnerable persons."

It added that websites which provide, facilitate, advertise or promote remote gambling services will be blocked from Feb 2. Payment transactions related to unlawful remote gambling activities will also be blocked.

MDA said that it met and discussed with gaming industry players after the law was passed.

"The Act will not impede the development of legitimate social media gaming businesses and (we) will continue working with the gaming industry to ensure its continued growth and development," MDA added.

limyihan@sph.com.sg