Sports fans in Singapore were able to take a punt online for the first time this October as local operator Singapore Pools became the first gambling firm to take advantage of new liberalised legislation.
[dropcap]U[/dropcap]nder a three-year exemption to the country’s Remote Gambling Act, betting companies are able to offer their services through online and mobile channels – with the proviso that strict age verification and social responsibility measures are put in place. So far, Singapore Pools and horseracing operator Singapore Turf Club have been the only two to enter the regulated online market.
“Many who like our lottery and sportsbetting games play for just a little flutter or social recreation,” Singapore Pools said in a statement. “However, we recognise there may be a minority who may play beyond their means. As such, we have safeguards in place to help create a responsible gaming environment for all. We design and communicate our products in a manner that will not promote excessive and irresponsible play. We have low minimum bet amounts and offer a conservative range of sports bets.”
Even after the allegations have been made about the Government’s intentions, I don’t think we are any wiser.
Despite an enthusiastic response from punters and operators, online gambling continues to face ferocious opposition from members of the Workers Party, who have questioned the motivations of the government. Describing online gaming as a “scourge”, MP Pritam Singh said legalising the activity would be likely to attract first-time gamblers rather than protecting existing ones. But Desmond Lee, the minister for home affairs, said attempts to block online gambling would only drive the problem underground.
“What is the Workers’ Party’s true position on this matter? Even after this evening, even after the allegations have been made about the Government’s intentions, I don’t think we are any wiser,” he said.