MHA proposes prize cap of $100 for arcade games, claw machines

·Editorial Team
·2 min read
Claw crane machines with stuffed animal toys seen in Tokyo, Japan. (PHOTO: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Claw crane machines with stuffed animal toys seen in Tokyo, Japan. (PHOTO: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A prize cap of $100 for mystery boxes, arcade games and claw machines is among the proposed changes to gambling laws this year being considered by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). 

Mystery boxes promise high-value prizes such as smart phones and game consoles, while arcades have started to offer high-value prizes such as smart phones to entice patrons, it noted in press release on Monday (12 July).

"We are careful not to over-regulate. We recognise that many Singaporeans consider mystery boxes, arcade games and claw machines as a form of entertainment," said MHA, which is inviting the public to provide feedback on the changes.

"However, there remains a need for safeguards to ensure that these activities do not induce gambling behaviour and cause social problems," it added.

The ministry said it conducted a survey on this proposal last year with most respondents – about 70 per cent – agreeing that $100 would be an appropriate cap. Of those who disagreed, some 90 per cent said they wanted an even lower cap, with the median value being $50.

Online games of chance

Meanwhile, MHA said online games of chance with virtual prizes will be allowed. For virtual items that can be transferred out of the game and potentially be exchanged for money or money’s worth on a third-party hosted exchange, the ministry proposes to introduce conditions to ensure that transferable virtual items are retained in the context of gameplay and entertainment, as intended by game developers.

However, online games of chance that allow players to use virtual items from other games as a form of stake on casino games or match outcomes, such as skin-betting sites, will not be allowed. 

In-game monetisation facilities for free-to-play games, where players do not have to pay to play or receive virtual prizes, will also be allowed, subject to conditions similar to those imposed on currently-exempted business promotion lucky draws, which will remain exempted.

Social gambling

On social gambling, MHA said physical social gambling among family and friends will be explicitly permitted under the law. 

However, online social gambling will remain a crime under the Remote Gambling Act.

"Explicit exemption of online social gambling will pose enforcement difficulties, as it will be difficult to establish if individuals are sufficiently and meaningfully acquainted with each other in the online context to qualify as social gambling," the ministry explained.

MHA's proposals can be viewed on the MHA and REACH website. Members of the public can provide their views on the proposals and any other suggestions on gambling regulation via email at MHA_Gambling_Feedback@mha.gov.sg or mailed out to MHA by 10 August 2021.

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