Gamblers all over the world dream of jetting off to destinations unknown to indulge in the glamorous hobby, with many choosing Singapore, due to its luxurious lifestyle. But if you aren’t aware of the legal rules around gambling, you might not get the experience you are looking for.
There are limited places where you can bet online or in-person in Singapore. In 2014 online gambling was outlawed; however, in 2016, it was made legal for the Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club.
If you are considering online betting for money outside of these two places, you can be landed with a $5,000 fine and six months in jail!
What is legal and what isn’t?
Many people are left confused about the rules for gambling in Singapore, however it can be broken down quickly and easily. For example…
- Online Betting – Singapore Pools websites
- Online Betting – Singapore Turf Club website
- Online Betting where no cash can be won
- Betting through bookies
- Using other online betting sites
What about poker?
There is plenty of debate surrounding poker, many people believe it is a game of skill, therefore the law should be more lenient. The laws in Singapore aren’t black and white, with some people believing it is illegal to play online, however, convictions are extremely rare and hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans play poker online, they just have to be sure they are playing with a licensed overseas provider to avoid any repercussions.
A short history of gambling in Singapore
Gambling has been around in Singapore in many forms. Like Mahjong, for example.
However, even though the country enjoys gambling and gaming, the government took steps to regulate it. In 2005 the Prime Minister of Singapore announced plans to open two resorts where people could gamble.
For some insight into the amount being spent on gambling, the Singapore lottery operator was making $4 billion a year. It was estimated that Singaporeans were spending billions of dollars on what would become illegal gambling.
When it comes to online betting for money, there are only two locations where you can do this: The Singapore Turf Club and the Singapore Pools.
What are the Singapore Turf Club and Pools?
The Singapore Turf Club is not only the oldest horse-racing club in Singapore, but it was the only one operating in Singapore.
Founded in 1842, it has been a mainstay of betting, and the online betting scene in Singapore. In 2016 it was granted a license to facilitate online betting.
The Turf Club transferred the horse betting operations to Singapore Pools in January 2019. These are the only two establishments in Singapore that you are able to place bets in, legally for money.
Betting on overseas-based or remote websites
The Remote Gambling Act changed how people in Singapore were able to online bet. Until 2014 the residents and travellers in Singapore had enjoyed the ability to use any gambling website that they had chosen.
When the act was introduced, all of the online betting websites such as 888poker were blocked.
If you do happen to come across a website that isn’t blocked: it is illegal. It is illegal to use foreign remote betting services, regardless of where they are based.
It was reported in 2016 that 120 people were arrested for breaking the online gambling law. Today Singapore also said the illegal bets collected to be in the region of S$2.5 million.
The Singapore government also blocked bank accounts, credit card payments and anything linked to online gambling services.
What else is legal?
Gambling doesn’t always have to have money changing hands. And in that case, you can play poker games in the comfort of your own home.
According to the RGA, betting includes the staking of money or money’s worth on the outcome of a sporting event.
Gaming refers to a game that involves an element of chance, skill, a mix of skill and luck – and the player stands to gain money’s worth rewards or cash.
What does the future hold for Singapore gambling?
The Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs announced plans to implement a new regulatory authority in 2021. The gambling rules and regulations within Singapore are complicated because multiple bodies are acting as regulators.
- Gambling Regulatory Unit regulates remote gambling and fruit machines
- Casino Regulatory Authority regulates casino gambling
- Singapore Totalisator Board covers retail pools betting
- Singapore Police Force is required to enforce the laws
- Ministry of Social and Family Development covers safeguarding against gambling-related harm
The MHA believes that it would be more beneficial for a single regulatory body.
The Gambling Regulatory Authority will manage the entire gambling landscape in Singapore. In 2021 they plan to look into loot boxes’ availability in video games and implement breaches to companies ignoring the rules.
Taking a strict and straightforward approach to everything that may be classed as gambling.
Relaxation of the rules?
Recent years have shown us that Singapore is more likely to tighten the grip on gambling outside of the designated establishments if anything. In January 2021they have set their sights on the loot boxes that you can purchase within some video games.
Online sellers advertise loot boxes for BLIZZARD’s popular shooter, Overwatch, with the aim to enhance the player’s experience; however, they come at a price in some cases. While seemingly innocent, they have all the hallmarks of microtransactions and can cost in-game currency or real-world cash.
Belgium banned these boxes in 2018, following an investigation of EA Sports and their microtransactions system, stating it was violating gambling legislation, with children being the party at most risk. The UK are calling for evidence to determine if loot boxes are gambling products.