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SINGAPORE: Clubs operating jackpot machines will come under more restrictions in order to get a permit to run such facilities, announced the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday (Jul 20).

Among the new measures, clubs will need to prove that they provide a “suitably wide range of substantive recreational and social facilities" apart from running jackpot or fruit machines, and the quota for such machines will be reduced.

In addition, the minimum age to enter jackpot rooms will be raised from 18 to 21 years old.

These restrictions are meant to protect people from the potential harms of gambling.

They were announced after a year-long review by MHA to ensure that clubs operate such machines only to supplement recreational facilities like karaoke rooms or swimming pools, rather than have them as a primary operation.“Our sense was that that original objective was not being met with a number of these outfits,” Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told reporters.

“From the review, we decided to substantially tighten it up, because we want to get back and keep to the original objectives.”According to MHA, there are 82 clubs operating close to 1,900 jackpot machines across Singapore.

These machines can be found in social clubs such as the Singapore Recreation Club, and in football clubhouses such as those of Tiong Bahru and Woodlands Wellington.

The new regulations, when implemented over the next two years, are expected to reduce the number of jackpot machines by a third, said Mr Shanmugam.

STRICTER CRITERIA FOR PERMITSTo continue operating such machines, a permit officer appointed by MHA will assess if the clubs' jackpot operations form only an “ancillary” part of a wider range of social and recreational offerings.

Currently, clubs need only provide at least two other examples of social activities.