Singapore is standing by its decision to regulate online betting in the island nation despite criticisms that the government’s move is in conflict with the country’s Remote Gambling Act (RGA).
The Strait Times reported that Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin is drawing flak from the government’s decision to allow Singapore Pools and Turf Club to offer bets online, which critics claim to be sending “confusing and conflicting signals.”
Responding to his critics, Tan has pointed out that regulating online betting will better protect its citizens that are drawn to these sites. He conceded that illegal online betting cannot be completely eradicated and in fact “is there and it is growing.”
“You can close down sites, but new sites will be set up, sometimes faster than you can close them down,” Tan said, according to the news website. “It is a global market with a lot of money to be made, and the worst thing is that it is unregulated and there are no safety measures in place.”
Saying that the government shares the concerns of anti-gambling and religious groups over gambling, Tan said online betting regulation will enable them to effectively moderate any problems and nip it in the bud before it grows.
Punters in Singapore were now allowed to bet online through two accredited operators Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club effective October 1.
Both Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club are non-profit organizations operating under the umbrella of the Ministry of Finance’s statutory Singapore Tote Board, and their gaming wins are channelled to the board for charitable and social causes.
Singapore Pools, which holds a monopoly on sports lottery products in the city state, has been given six months to apply for an exemption on the RGA.
The decision of Singapore to allow players in Singapore to place their bet, according to Tan, was inspired by the examples of HongKong and Norway, which also allow a small number of legal online betting operators.
“If we don’t have this environment, what it means is that those who seek to bypass existing bans that are in place will then operate in a place that is completely unfettered,” he said. “And I think that is quite dangerous, because they are exposed to criminal elements as well, over and above the social ills that come with gambling. So it is really a combination of these measures that we think would be one way to deal with the potential growing problem.”