Singapore relaxes online betting

The entrance to the Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore. Source: Wikimedia

Singapore will allow online betting before the end of the year as the city-state’s lottery operator Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club were given the all clear to begin operations.

The two companies have been given an exemption from the Remote Gambling Act, which prohibits online and phone betting, by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Sports betting, especially on European football matches, is deeply entrenched in Singapore, which has two casinos.
Under the exemptions, only over-21s can open an account and players have to set daily limits on how much they want to bet online.

Singapore Pools will open its online betting services on October 25 and Turf Club will unveil its online and mobile platforms on November 15.

Bets can be placed on football, 4D, Toto, formula 1 and horse racing. Casino-style gambling or poker are prohibited.

The licences last three years.

The Remote Gambling Act came into law last February, leading to hundreds of websites being blocked.

The ministry said: “While our blocking regime is one of the most comprehensive in the world…it is not straightforward to eradicate remote gambling totally.”
A spokesman added: “A complete ban would only serve to drive remote gambling underground, making it harder to detect, and exacerbate the associated law and order, and social concerns.” It pointed out that it had introduced “stringent operating conditions” on the two operators.

They had to “keep their management and operations of the remote gambling services free from criminal influence, ensure integrity of their operations and implement social safeguards and responsible gambling measures”.

Hong Kong and Norway also allowed regulated authorised operators, while operators must take measures to prevent money laundering and terror financing, he said.

Breaches by the operators could lead to fines of up to US$1 million and removal of the licences, the ministry said.

Rules state that operators must verify the identity and age of each player in person before accounts are activated, gambling on credit is prohibited and players must set daily spending limits with increases only taking effect the next day.

The National Council on Problem Gambling will checks to ensure players are not on casino exclusion orders and responsible gambling messages must be displayed while adverts and promotions to encourage people to engage in remote gambling are forbidden.