Singapore’s authorization of online gambling at its two state-approved betting monopolies hasn’t led to a surge in wagering, according to a senior government minister.
On Wednesday, parliamentarians queried Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo on the effects on Singaporean society of the September 2016 approval for the Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club monopolies to launch new online betting sites.
The Straits Times quoted Teo responding that there has been no sudden surge in online wagering, and that a significant number of the two monopolies’ new online bettors “appear not to be first-time gamblers.”
Teo went on to say that 30% of Singapore Pools’ new online gamblers and 80% of Turf Club’s online registrants had previously held telephone betting accounts with the operators. Even among those online bettors who hadn’t opened telephone accounts, “over 95%” had made a wager with that same operator in the 12 months before signing up online.
Teo cautioned that it was “not possible to ascertain” whether the customers patronizing Singapore-licensed gambling sites “have simply switched from other platforms, including illegal ones, or have increased their total gambling.”
But Teo added that there hadn’t been “a surge” in betting turnover with either monopoly operator since the launch of their new sites. Their combined annual turnover grew 2.6% last year, virtually unchanged from the 2.4% average annual growth experienced in the 2012-15 period.
Moreover, Teo cited figures from consultancy H2 Gambling Capital that indicated Singapore’s underground online gambling market grew only 0.3% last year, significantly below the 3.1% average annual growth in 2012-16.
Singapore’s new Remote Gambling Act took effect in February 2015, imposing significant penalties on both unauthorized online gambling operators and Singapore residents who patronize such sites. The government also instituted domain- and payment-blocking measures to ensure compliance with the new rules.