Online gambling operators rethink Singapore after gambling bill passage

singapore-bet365-pokerstars-888-ibcbet-sbobet-william-hillOnline gambling operators have begun their retreat from the Singapore market following passage of the city-state’s new online gambling laws. Last week saw Singapore legislators pass their Remote Gambling Bill, which will restrict Singapore’s market to local non-profit operators. The bill won’t take effect until an as yet unspecified date next year, but international operators are already sending ‘Dear John’ letters to their Singapore customers.

Today Online reported that UK operator Bet365 had informed its customers that they would no longer be permitted to wager with the site as of Wednesday (15). Bet365, which was recently chastised by the Guardian for its dealings in China, expressed regret for the move while urging customers to withdraw their account balances as soon as possible. Asian betting giant IBC Bet informed its Singaporean customers their betting privileges would be curtailed by Friday (17) due to “recent regulatory developments.”

Other operators, including UK-listed 888 Holdings and Asian heavyweight SBOBET, have made it known that they will no longer accept new customer registrations from Singapore. However, they appear to be willing to milk this cow right up until the official deadline. William Mummery, executive director of SBOBET parent firm Celton Manx Limited, told Today that the operator would comply with the law when it takes effect, while suggesting legislators hadn’t fully considered the “far-reaching effects it may have on legitimate businesses and individuals.”

UK-listed bookies William Hill plans business as usual in Singapore until the new law officially takes effect. Amaya Gaming’s PokerStars, which recently shed ties with a couple dozen grey/black markets, also says it has no current plans to ditch its many Singaporean customers but will keep them in the loop as the company tracks local developments.

It remains to be seen how successful Singapore will be in purging its market of online operators who don’t respect the new regime. Singapore has vowed to employ full-spectrum blocking of internet addresses and payment processing to hinder unauthorized operators, along with harsh penalties for players who attempt to patronize such sites via virtual private networks. But like they say, that’s why they play the games…