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Singapore set to offer exemptions to online betting ban

Wed, Sep 21, 9:32am by Staff Writer

The liberalisation of the online betting environment in Singapore is expected to have ramifications across Asia, with the government considering allowing online gambling.

The Straits Times has reported that both the Singapore Turf Club and Singapore Pools are likely to be granted exemptions to the Remote Gambling Act, which will mean they will be free to offer gambling products online.

The Remote Gambling Act was introduced in 2014 to formally ban online gambling and as a result, hundreds of gambling website have been blocked.

However, an operator could be exempted from the Act if it can prove that it was a not-for-profit operation that contributed to public, social and charitable causes within Singapore.

It is believed the STC, which operates on horse racing, and Singapore Pools, which offers betting on football as well as other sports, are close to being approved and both are ready to launch online products as soon as this occurs.

Singapore has a massive issue with illegal gambling and it is calculated that Singaporeans gambled $1,376 per person every year, the highest in the world.

It is hoped some of that revenue may flow back to the benefit of the state through the STC and Singapore Pools.

The current Singapore administration has taken a much more liberal stance on gambling, with a boom in casino development over the past six years, including the Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands.

The industry is said to be worth around $6 billion, making Singapore a genuine rival for the gambling mecca of Macau, which has suffered a decline in recent years.

VIP gamblers from across Asia have flocked to Singapore as gambling conditions have tightened in Macau.

However, not all Singaporeans are in favour of further loosening of regulation.

In a letter in The Straits Times this week, concerned citizen, Toh Shok Ching, said she felt legalised online betting could do substantial damage to the fabric of Singaporean society,

“The Government approving Singapore Pools’ and Singapore Turf Club’s applications to be exempted from the Remote Gambling Act would be taking the easy way out in its efforts to counter illicit gambling on unauthorised websites,” she wrote.

“Instead, it should think up responsive measures by working closely with the police and the Infocomm Development Authority, while continuing to ban and block websites that offer remote gambling services.”

“What makes the Government think that the number of gambling addicts will not spiral upwards with the introduction of online betting?”

The Singaporean Government has not officially confirmed it will grant the exemptions.

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