Forum: Broaden scope of laws on gambling to cover online games with chance elements

The Ministry of Home Affairs' proposed amendments to Singapore's gambling regulations will have more advantages than disadvantages (Plans to broaden scope of laws on gambling, July 13).

Gambling can have deleterious effects on one's family and health. Many people fall prey to excessive gambling because they are unaware of the exact consequences of their actions early on.

This may be attributed to youth being exposed to gambling materials and practices from a young age, be it in school or at home during festive periods like Chinese New Year.

Without proper parental guidance, young people could potentially give in to temptation and pick up bad gambling habits. The proposed amendments focus mainly on countering the new ways gambling has evolved in today's digitalised world.

Many desktop and mobile games require in-game purchases to obtain rare skins (virtual cosmetic game items) or gain access to unique features. In order to acquire these upgraded features, players would need to continually spend money to even stand a chance of winning.

However, the nature of such transactions is by chance and is very similar to gambling.

Players are betting small and counting on the slim chance of winning big.

Additionally, many youth are the ones playing these online games without a clear understanding of gambling.

When they indulge in such activities from a young age, they are unknowingly picking up the gambling habit.

It is thus essential that amendments be made to the regulations to protect users from games which prioritise monetisation without thinking of the unintended consequences of their actions.

Louis Lim