Social clubs in Singapore will have to go through the proverbial eye of a needle before they can operate slot machines in their premises.
Under the new measures, clubs will need to prove that they offer a “suitably wide range of substantive recreational and social facilities” aside from the slot machines, whose quota will be reduced. The clubs will also have to pass a new test regarding the scope of their non-gaming amenities, and those who don’t pass will have to stop operating the machines by April 30, 2018.
Access to the machines will also be stricter starting November, with the minimum age raised from 18 to 21. Entry will also be limited to club members who have signed up for at least a year, and they are not allowed bring guests into the rooms where the machines are. The rooms can only operate from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., the ministry said.
The aim is to ensure that the slot machines are only a small part of the club’s social activities, officials said.
“The above changes will align the regulations of fruit machines more closely to the intention of ensuring fruit machines are only an ancillary part of a club’s broader suite of recreational and social offerings,” the ministry stated. “The changes will also strengthen protection of individuals from the potential harms of fruit machine gaming.”
The tighter regulations is expected to cut the number of slot machines in the city state by nearly a third of its current number. According to the Straits Times, there are about 1,900 slot machines in 82 social and football clubs in Singapore.
At present, clubs may operate the machines if they have at least two other recreational facilities, among other factors. Clubs that “flout the criteria” can be fined up to S$20,000 and jailed up to a year under the Private Lotteries Act, according to the news outlet.
“Our sense is that some of them sort of pay lip service to the need to provide other services and focus on the jackpot machines as their primary objective. That we cannot allow,” said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, according to the report.
“We will look at what the main ‘business’ of the organization is, and whether it is bona fide, and whether there is a social purpose to be served.”