SINGAPORE — Online gambling is set to become illegal in Singapore, with Second Home Affairs Minister S Iswaran announcing today (Nov 28) that the Government intends to restrict remote gambling unless specific exemptions are in place.
New laws will be introduced to allow enforcement agencies to act against those who provide or facilitate remote gambling, which is gambling via the Internet or any communication device, such as a smart phone. Gambling websites and payments to remote gambling operators will be blocked, and advertisements promoting remote gambling will be banned.
The objective is to impede access to such platforms and “send a clear signal of the regulatory stance in Singapore”, said Mr Iswaran.
Singapore currently does not have any specific laws to deal with remote gambling.
Some jurisdictions like Hong Kong have allowed a limited form of remote gambling through a strictly-regulated authorised entity. Mr Isawaran said authorities here will consider similar provisions carefully.
Mr Iswaran said there is concern over remote gambling for several reasons.
For one, it’s ubiquitous and easily accessible. A survey by the Home Affairs Ministry of some 1,000 Internet users showed that almost three in 10 had gambled remotely at least once in the past year. The nature and design of the games, especially poker and casino-type games, also lend themselves to repetitive play and addictive behaviour.
Mr Iswaran added that remote gambling operations can potentially become a source or conduit of funds for other illegal activities and syndicated crime.
Some analysts estimate that the size of the remote gambling market in Singapore could be US$300 million (S$376.4 million), and it is expected to grow by 6-7 per cent annually.
There will be a public consultation exercise with various stakeholders before the law is in place.