A proposed Singapore law, known as the Remote Gambling Bill, was introduced to the city-state’s parliament on Monday. If approved, the bill would at once regulate online gambling in Singapore while mostly outlawing the provision of such services to Singaporeans.
The ban would apply as long as part of the gambling activity takes place in Singapore, regardless of where the bet is placed or where the remote gambling operator is located, report local media.
Under the suggested legislation, remote gambling would refer to gambling via the Internet, telephone or any other platform that facilitates communication between gamblers and gambling promoters.
Singapore-based media outlet Channel NewsAsia said its research indicated there are currently websites that specifically target the Singapore market, with some it says even offering payment processing via local banks.
The government announcement on the proposed law comes less than a fortnight before the Singapore Grand Prix on September 21 – which local media report attracts heavy betting from locals via online platforms.
The bill would give the Singaporean authorities the powers to block access to offending websites and block payments to them, said the Ministry of Home Affairs.
There would be some exemptions for charitable or other good causes, under strict conditions. They would be in cases where the entity is based in Singapore and meets the following criteria: where the entity is not-for-profit; where it contributes to public, social or charitable purposes in Singapore; and where it has a good track record of compliance with Singapore’s legal and regulatory requirements.
State-owned lottery company Singapore Pools (P) Ltd and the city’s licensed horse racing provider, the Singapore Turf Club, which both offer telephone betting services, are likely to apply for exemptions under those provisions, reported local media.
The ministry said it had studied the laws and practices of other jurisdictions, such as Hong Kong, Norway and France in drawing up the bill. There was also a 6-week public consultation, it stated.
At a Casino Regulatory Authority seminar in May 2013, signalling the government’s intention to regulate online gambling activity, S Iswaran, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, said: “Online gambling is a new and potentially more addictive form of gambling, with greater access to the young and vulnerable.” Mr Iswaran is also Second Minister for Home Affairs.
Studies by Singapore’s National Council on Problem Gambling suggested that about a third of those who engage in online gambling tend to gamble longer, spend more than they had planned, and gamble more frequently, reported Channel NewsAsia.
Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp – one of two firms licensed by Singapore to operate casino resorts in the city – is on public record as a strong opponent of online gambling in the United States market.
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