SINGAPORE - Online betting will be introduced in Singapore over the next two months after Singapore-based lottery operators Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club were given the go ahead to run online betting platforms.
The two operators have been exempted from the Remote Gambling Act, which outlaws online and phone gambling, by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
But they have to put in place safeguards, such as allowing only those above 21 to open accounts and requiring players to set daily limits on how much they want to spend on online gambling.
Singapore Pools will launch its online betting services on Oct 25 and Turf Club will launch its new web and mobile platform on Nov 15.
The Straits Times first reported on Sept 15 that both operators would roll out their services soon.
Punters can place bets only for 4D, Toto, football, F1 sports and horse-racing. Casino-style games or poker are not allowed.
The exemptions will last for three years and the operators can apply for renewal of exemptions.
Since the Act came into force in February last year, several hundred websites that offer remote gambling services have been blocked.
Some critics have said that granting exemptions makes online betting more accessible, and could exacerbate the problem of gambling addiction.
In a media release, the ministry said it was not "straightforward to eradicate remote gambling totally".
Where to go for help if you have a gambling habit, or if you know someone who needs help:
The National Council on Problem Gambling helpline
Blessed Grace Social Services
One Hope Centre
Its spokesman said: "A complete ban would only serve to drive remote gambling underground, making it harder to detect, and exacerbate the associated law and order, and social concerns." It pointed out that it has imposed "stringent operating conditions" on both operators.
They have to "keep their management and operations of the remote gambling services free from criminal influence, ensure integrity of their operations and implement social safeguards and responsible gambling measures".
Operators also have to put in place systems and controls to prevent money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism.
If the conditions are breached, the operators could be fined up to $1 million and have their exemption status revoked.
The safeguards include:
1. A person must be at least 21 years old to open a player account.
2. Operators have to verify the identity and age of the player in person before accounts can be activated.
3. Gambling on credit is prohibited.
4. Players must set daily spending and funding limits. Any increase in expenditure limits would take effect only the next day, while decreases would kick in immediately.
5. The National Council on Problem Gambling will conduct checks to ensure players are not on casino exclusion orders.
6. Operators must implement a self-exclusion system and display responsible gambling messages.
7. Advertisements and promotional activities to encourage people to engage in remote gambling are forbidden.