Singapore Pools still waiting for nod on online betting

Punters in queue to buy lottery at Singapore Pools’ Hougang Branch at Block 211 in Hougang Street 21 on February 17.
Punters in queue to buy lottery at Singapore Pools’ Hougang Branch at Block 211 in Hougang Street 21 on February 17. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

Lottery operator Singapore Pools has yet to gain approval to run its first online betting website, with less than two weeks to the start of Euro 2016.

A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesman told The Straits Times that the application from Singapore Pools for exemption from laws that curb online betting "is currently being evaluated".

The Straits Times reported in July last year that Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club had both applied to be exempted under the Remote Gambling Act, passed in October 2014 to clamp down on unregulated online betting.

The MHA said then the evaluation process would take nine to 12 months, based on "strict" criteria.

 
 

A steering committee led by Singapore Pools chief executive Seah Chin Siong was also set up to oversee the operator's sports business and IT teams, which were working towards getting Singapore Pools' site up and running in time for the European championship, which kicks off in France on June 10.

Singapore Pools also had hired British giant OpenBet, which it said provided online gambling software for major bookmakers such as William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair, to help replace its website with one which can offer sports betting.

In the e-mailed response, the MHA spokesman said for exemption, the entity applying had to be not for profit and one which contributes to public, social and charitable causes in Singapore.

It must have a consistent and good track record of compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and fulfil other requirements.

Should an exemption certificate be issued, the operator has to keep the management and operations of the remote gambling service free from criminal influence, ensure the integrity of the operations, and implement social safeguards and responsible gambling measures.

Singapore Pools said last year it planned to display the time spent on the gambling website and even allow people to apply for self-exclusion orders.

The Remote Gambling Act came into effect in February last year. It criminalises a host of remote gambling activities, among them phone betting, unless exemption is specifically obtained.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore Pools still waiting for nod on online betting'. Print Edition | Subscribe