In September, Singapore’s Government decided to allow limited online betting take place. The move, a first for Singapore, would see the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) exempt Singapore-based lottery operators Singapore Pools and Singapore TurfClub from the Remote Gambling Act, which bans online and phone gambling. In a media release from MHA, the ministry commented on their reasoning for the exemptions. “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.”
Community polling by Blackbox reveals that just under three-quarters of all Singaporeans (74%) are either opposed or strongly opposed to both online and offline gambling. In line with this, over seven in ten (76%) are concerned that the new exemptions will exacerbate gambling addiction in Singapore.
Despite their concerns, two in five Singaporeans (40%) support the new exemptions to online gambling, whilst just over one in five (21%) feel that they do not know enough about the issue. Younger Singaporeans – aged 15-24 – are more supportive of the new measures (46%) than the over 50s (36%). Just under two in five Singaporeans believe that the move will drive more visitors to casinos.
In order to be served the exemption, both Singapore Pools and Singapore TurfClub will have to put stringent safeguards in place, including age and identity verification, as well as daily spending limits. Breaches of these safeguards are punishable with fines of up to $1 million, as well as a revocation of operating license.
2015 saw the generation of $2.71 billion in betting taxes for the Nation. The Government revealed last year that Singapore’s two gambling resorts contributed between 1.5 and 2 percent of Singapore’s GDP and have created over 20,000 jobs.