Police step up action to curb illegal World Cup gambling


People at the live screening of the World Cup at OCBC Square on June 14, 2018.
People at the live screening of the World Cup at OCBC Square on June 14, 2018.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

The authorities are stepping up anti-gambling efforts during the World Cup season, which started last night and ends on July 15.

These include cracking down on illegal remote gambling and launching public education campaigns on illegal betting, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development said in a joint statement yesterday.

Since last week, police have arrested two people suspected to be involved in providing illegal remote gambling services.

They are also investigating 10 people suspected of allowing illegal gambling websites to use their bank accounts and mobile lines.

"Police will continue to take tough enforcement action against those who flout the law, including those who assist remote gambling syndicates in any way," said the statement.

The public should not place bets with illegal remote gambling operators. Those who place such bets can be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to six months or both.

Since February 2015, MHA has blocked more than 800 illegal gambling websites, 200 bank accounts used by illegal remote gambling operators and $7 million worth of transactions.

Psychiatrist Thomas Lee, me-dical director of The Resilienz Clinic, said he has encountered cases of former gambling ad-dicts relapsing during the World Cup season.

 

"You see more news about football matches on all sorts of media, and that tends to hype up the excitement and the thrill," he said.

Comparing it to a former alcoholic walking into a room full of alcohol, Dr Lee added: "The temptation is right there."

The campaign against problem gambling will take the form of advertisements on television, in newspapers, and at coffee shops and bus stops.

There will also be an online push to engage young people over the signs of problem gambling and encourage them to seek help early.

Those struggling with problem gambling can get anonymous e-counselling via the National Problem Gambling Helpline on 1800-6668-668 or via webchat at www.ncpg.org.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2018, with the headline 'Police step up action to curb illegal World Cup gambling'. Print Edition | Subscribe