Singapore moves to regulate remote gambling

Singapore has begun the process of regulating remote gambling in the sovereign city-state after a new bill was tabled in parliament yesterday (Monday).

Aimed at clamping down on the unregulated remote gambling industry, the Remote Gambling Bill will define activities that fall under its parameters and allow authorities to tackle such activities.

The bill will target all forms of remote gambling activity that take place in Singapore, regardless of where the bet is placed or where the remote gambling operator is actually located.

The bill also features a number of blocking measures, which will allow authorities to implement website access and payment blocking.

According to the website, the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs said websites that may be blocked include those that “provide, facilitate or advertise remote gambling”.

Financial institutions will also be instructed to block transfers to accounts linked to people involved with unlawful remote gambling.

However, there will be exemptions for operators that are based in Singapore and are not-for-profit organisations that contribute to public, social or charitable purposes in the country and have a good record of compliance with Singapore’s legal and regulatory requirements.

The submission of the bill comes after a six-week public consultation in addition to other meetings with various grassroots, social service, religious and industry groups. 

The Ministry also studied the laws and practices of other jurisdictions such as France, Norway and Hong Kong.

Gerald Singham of the National Council on Problem Gaming said that he expects the exemptions to apply to current activities such as football betting and horseracing.

“By introducing the Remote Gambling Bill, what the Government is trying to move punters towards the authorised operators,” Singham said.

“By doing this, we are hoping to implement social safeguards, through these authorised operators who have been exempted.”

Singham said the Bill would also help target games available through social media, which can attract younger users.

“They try to pass themselves off as social games, but actually, they have more sinister objectives and they simulate remote gambling by offering bonuses and opportunities to win certain prizes if you pay,” Singham said.

“These are the ones we are also concerned about, because upfront, they look very innocent, but subliminally, they can cause a lot of problems for those who are vulnerable.”

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