On Wednesday, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced on its website that the feared Remote Gambling Act will begin its enforcement on Feb. 2, 2015.
The Remote Gaming Act was passed by the Singapore Parliament on Oct. 7, 2014, and is expected to create a 'complete prohibition of real-money online gaming, including online poker, in the country.'
The new law not only makes it illegal to offer unlicensed gaming within the country's borders, but also makes it a criminal offense for the country's residents to gamble remotely with unauthorized gaming operators or facilitate others to do so.
As an additional measure, the country will be blocking access to any website that provides, facilitates, advertises or promotes remote gambling services. Banking transactions related to unlicensed gaming activities will also be blocked starting on Feb. 2. There are expected to be stiff penalties for any person or entity attempting to circumvent these upcoming controls.
Social Games Such as Candy Crush are Safe
There were many concerns in Singapore whether the prohibitive Remote Gaming Act would hit also skill-based social games such as the popular Candy Crush Saga, Tower of Saviors, and 2Fuse. Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) clarified the scope of the Remote Gaming Act on its website on Jan. 28, alleviating concerns of many in the country. According to the MDS, these types of games are not covered by the score of the Remote Gaming Act provided they meet the conditions listed below.
- Games which do not allow players to win, through an in-game facility, money or real-world merchandise which can be exchanged for money.
- Games which allow players to purchase or exchange game credits or tokens, but do not provide in-game facility to convert these game credits or tokens to money or real-world merchandise which can be exchanged for money.
- Games which allow players to purchase, gain or exchange game enhancement features, e.g. weapons, skills, but do not provide in-game facility to convert these game enhancement features to money or real-world merchandise which can be exchanged for money.
- Games which rank players but do not provide in-game facility to convert these ranking positions to money or real-world merchandise which can be exchanged for money, such as Tower of Saviors and 2Fuse in their current form.
Games that feature leaderboards, which rank and reward top players, or feature tournaments with real-world prizes on the line will be allowed provided that they do not resemble casino-style games nor are deemed to be facilitating criminal activity covered in the Remote Gaming Act.
Stay tuned to PokerNews for more news as it happens in Singapore's gaming marketplace.