Operating mystery prize vending machines is illegal: Singapore police

A mystery prize vending machine operated by Heybox at NEX. PHOTO: Screenshot from YouTube

While they are a common sight in shopping malls such as NEX, Bugis Junction and White Sands as well as pasar malaams, police are warning that operating vending machines that dispense random mystery prizes upon receipt of cash payments is illegal.

This is because the machines are considered a form of public lottery. Users typically fork out $10 for a mystery box, which usually contain items such as USB chargers but can supposedly contain prizes such as the iPhone X, XBox and PlayStation.

In a statement on Thursday (16 August), a police spokesperson said that this is an offence under Section 5(a) of the Common Gaming Houses Act.

“Existing merchants operating such vending machines are advised to cease these operations. Police will take enforcement actions against merchants who continue to contravene the law,” said the police spokesperson.

Any person found guilty may be fined between $20,000 and $200,000 and jailed up to five years.

In response to queries, Heybox Vending owner Rebecca Chan told Yahoo News Singapore that they had been notified by the police and had stopped operating its 15 machines. “We are still thinking of plans to move forward,” said Chan.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to other operators of mystery prize vending machines for comment.

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