Most Singapore residents support the government’s planned restrictions on online gambling, according to the preliminary findings of the government’s recent public feedback exercise. In November, Second Home Affairs Minister S Iswaran announced that the city-state was looking into methods of restricting Singaporeans’ access to online gambling sites, which he said could potentially act as “a source or conduit of funds for other illegal activities and syndicated crime.”
On Thursday, Iswaran revealed his findings on the public mood to Parliament, showing broad support for restricted access to online gambling, but mixed results on whether or not to implement a blanket ban. Some respondents suggested a Hong Kong-style system in which a state-controlled entity – such as Singapore Pools – was granted a local monopoly over online gambling. Such a system would prohibit casino-style games, restrict betting limits and funnel proceeds to charitable causes.
Other respondents expressed doubts that such a limited system would discourage Singaporeans from patronizing unauthorized sites and whether Singapore could effectively block financial transactions with unauthorized sites. Separate consultations by the National Council on Problem Gambling in January suggested criminal penalties for third parties who provide Singapore gamblers with direct or indirect access to such sites. Iswaran said his ministry would take a few more months to study measures implemented by other online gaming jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, Singapore police recently broke up a loan-sharking operation catering to gamblers at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort-casino. On February 26, nine men and four women were detained by the Criminal Investigation Department in cooperation with the Casino Regulatory Authority and the Police Intelligence Department. Six of the individuals were charged for violating the Moneylenders Act, while investigation into the others’ activities remains ongoing.