In the past year, visitors to shopping centers had seen vending machines filled with clearly packaged boxes and the promise of winning expensive items.
But unlike their ads, these machines are allowed to issue mysterious prizes for a fee, but do not store items of "meaningful value," the police said yesterday.
The possibility of such fraudulent practices was one of the reasons why the police declared such machines unlawful earlier this month, forcing operators in shopping centers and arcades to force the entire island to abruptly shut down.
In an e-mail response to questions, the police said that handing out random mystery prizes for money is essentially a game of chance.
Such machines have developed extensively in Singapore and can promote gambling, also among children, according to the police.
However, companies may hold public lotteries to promote the sale of a product or service, subject to the conditions laid down in the gaming legislation, and the statement has been added.
At least four operators have settled in shopping centers, malls, and stores over the past year and are charged between $ 5 and $ 10 for a box with a mystery prize.
Punters are lured in with the promise of items with a large ticket, such as smartphones and game consoles, but most boxes contain items with a low value, such as eye masks or USB chargers.
Lawyers said that what determines whether something is considered gambling is whether the mechanism used is a game of chance or skill.
The law is broad enough to apply to other forms of probability-related prices, such as vending machines selling capsules with random toys and trinkets, and mystery boxes sold online, they said.
But authorities will probably not force it without reason.
"Something would only be regulated if it becomes a problem … in this case (the machines) we have worked extensively in shopping centers, where there is easy access to vulnerable groups such as children," said criminal lawyer Rajan Supramaniam.
Addiction specialists say that the attraction of a jackpot prize is what separates the mystery box machines, often decorated with photos of winners who hold items like laptops, of other products that are sold randomly.
Billy Lee, founder of Blessed Grace Social Services, who has a support group for gambling addicts, said: "These machines are just another form of gambling – the ability to get a big jackpot will get someone to keep stuck. to get that elusive price. & # 39;
The authorities are planning to crack down on mystery boxing machines, some of whom are randomly mentioned, as other types of lotteries-based products may produce the same addictive behavior.
Dr. Thomas Lee, medical director and consultant psychiatrist at Resilienz Clinic, said it might be worthless.
"Capsule machines usually cost only 50 cents or $ 1, you know what you're going to get and articles usually have the same value," he noted, while in this case, users can spend up to $ 10 on items of lower value.