In a rather surprising change of events, legal online gambling in Singapore is about to become a reality. After prohibiting the activity last year, the government altered it’s opinion, choosing to hand out two permits for the operation of online lottery and sports betting sites.
The Singapore casino industry has performed phenomenally well over the last six years, particularly in terms of increased tourism. However, the acceptance of two land-based casino licenses came with great restrictions – namely the fact that Singapore’s citizens are not permitted to access those casino.
Five years later, in tandem with those anti-Singaporean gambling laws, in February of 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) passed the Remote Gambling Act (RGA), officially criminalizing online gambling.
The intention of that bill was to protect citizens from the potential hazards of waging with offshore, unregulated gaming sites. The RGA provided a framework for blocking access to such websites, blocking payments to those websites, and imposed a ban against gambling advertisements in general.
The ban on advertisements made sense because, when Singapore casinos first opened in 2010, it came with strict regulations that Singapore citizens would not be allowed to enter them. Those casinos are for tourists only, and despite the curiousness of those restrictions, the industry has been ultimately successful in drawing more visitors from outside the country.
As such, it also made sense that online gambling would be illegal in the country, as the government does not feel gambling on casino style games like slot machines and blackjack is a healthy activity for its people (although they obviously don’t mind generating tax revenue from the gambling habits of foreigner visitors).
The RGA did leave some leeway for exceptions to be scripted, and that’s exactly what the MHA took advantage of this year. While abiding by the general rules – which stipulate that any regulated site must be based in Singapore, must operate as a not-for-profit business, and must be considered a good social cause that benefits public interest – the MHA has been given permission to license two operators for legal online gambling in Singapore.
It should be noted, however, that due to the country’s general opinion of gambling, online casinos and poker games will not be regulated or conducted by authorized providers.
Sites for Legal Online Gambling in Singapore
The two operators destined to launch Singapore’s limited online wagering sites are the Singapore Pools lottery and Singapore Turf Club. They have already partnered with OpenBet to provide the software and build the websites for both operators.
Singapore Pools has been approved by the MHA to launch an online lottery and sports betting product that will include wagers on horse racing, Formula 1 racing and football. That website is scheduled to launch just a few weeks from now on October 25. Singapore Turf Club’s website will be called iTote, and is slated for launch on November 15.
In its current state, Singapore Pools’ website already offers odds on sports betting wagers in these categories. However, punters can only use the website to compare odds, stats and determine what bets they’d like to place before visiting a physical retailer to make their wagers. Once the new platform is available, they will be able to compare odds and place wagers directly from the website.
Both operators will be subject to strict regulations and licensing terms, with regular audits conducted by the MHA to ensure they are in compliance with all codes of practice, including social safeguards and setting daily deposit and wagering limits. Operators will not not permitted to provide punters with a line of credit.