The transformation of Singapore’s current casino and remote gambling regulators into a single regulatory body has been delayed as a result of COVID-19, the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) has revealed.
Originally planned to be up and running by early 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced last year that the new Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) would see the current Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA), which oversees Singapore’s two casinos – Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa – and the Gambling Regulatory Unit, which regulates remote gambling services and “fruit machines”, come under one umbrella.
That process is now underway, however the CRA said in its 2020/2021 Annual Report, released this week, that the transformation of the current bodies into the GRA has taken longer than expected as a result of the pandemic.
“With most employees working from home during the pandemic, it has not been easy for CRA officers to prepare for GRA, as much of the developmental work requires intensive face-to-face discussions,” said CRA Chairman Tan Tee How.
“Notwithstanding this, I am happy to see that officers have persevered and achieved much despite the new working conditions. In addition, CRA officers worked relentlessly to ensure that CRA’s supervision of the casino industry remains thorough and robust.”
CRA Chief Executive Officer Teo Chun Ching added that “significant progress” has been made in preparatory works for CRA’s reconstitution to GRA.
“Reviews are ongoing to rationalize and consolidate gambling legislations and regulatory frameworks for both existing and emerging gambling products to ensure that the entire gambling landscape will be regulated in a risk-calibrated and holistic manner,” he said.
“To enhance our capabilities and processes, we have also been focusing on digital, process and workforce transformation efforts. This is necessary to make us more effective and efficient in our work to keep Singapore safe from the potential harms and undesirable by-effects of gambling. Even after GRA is formed, transformation will remain an ongoing journey for us to stay agile in a dynamic and increasingly complex operating environment.”
The CRA’s annual report revealed that the new GRA will revamp a number of processes, including the addition of a new training curriculum for officers, implementation of a new licensing system and an extension of the maximum tenure for special employee licences from three years to seven years. The latter, it said, would allow the GRA to “better calibrate special employee licences according to various considerations such as job functions and risk profiles.”
The new body will also focus on promoting new technologies such as digital payment solutions, the CRA explained.
“The consolidation of regulatory functions under a single regulator serves to ensure that Singapore keeps up with trends in the global gambling landscape, while taking a holistic approach in formulating regulatory policies,” said Tan.
“For GRA to be effective in carrying out its new functions, we must strive to be a smart regulator – by anticipating trends and risks, and by entrenching risk management in our decision-making. This entails, for example, the deepening of our sense-making and data analytics capabilities. To this end, GRA would dedicate resources to conduct deep-dive research and environmental scans of the gambling landscape. We will need to closely understand emerging products and trends in order to strengthen evidence-based policy formulation.
At the same time, GRA would continue to adopt a risk-calibrated approach to avoid over-regulating and stifling the innovative practices of industry players. This approach will help us ensure our resources are rightly allocated at looking into products of higher risk, so that we achieve effectiveness in our regulatory regime.”