Singapore hopes lottery and sports bettors have an environmental conscience, while authorities warn that playing online ‘mystery prize’ games are a one-way ticket to prisonville.
On Tuesday, the Singapore Pools sports betting and lottery monopoly announced the launch of a new mobile app targeting customers who still prefer walking around with a paper betting ticket in their pocket.
Singapore Pools and its horserace betting counterpart Singapore Turf Club began operating online in 2016 and already offer apps that allow customers to make their wagers in digital fashion. The new eBetslip app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices, is aimed at punters who remain partial to the certainty that comes with a physical record.
The new app requires users to fill out a digital betting slip via the app, then proceed to a Singapore Pools retail outlet, where they scan their digital slip’s unique QR code and receive a paper betting ticket. This eliminates the need to fill out a physical betting slip, which Singapore Pools estimates could reduce its annual paper usage by 71 tons, thereby sparing over 1,200 trees from the woodsman’s axe, if only 10% of paper bettors make the switch.
The new app also features an expense tracker that Singapore Pools hopes will allow customers to better manage their gambling spending by allowing them to set weekly or monthly spending limits. The app is currently welcome at 25 retail outlets, with the rest of the city-state’s outlets so equipped by the end of October.
THE REAL MYSTERY IS HOW LONG BEFORE YOU’RE ARRESTED
Earlier this summer, Singaporean media was rife with reports of retailers in shopping malls installing vending machines that dispensed ‘mystery boxes’ containing random prizes – mostly minor items such as USB chargers or headphones but occasionally larger items including smartphones and designer handbags – to customers, usually for a price of around S$10 per play.
In August, Singapore police issued a warning that the machines represented an illegal public lottery, and merchants offering the machines could face financial penalties and prison terms of up to five years. Most retailers duly complied with the notice.
However, last week brought reports that similar ‘mystery’ prizes were being dispensed online via the Facebook Live platform. Customers purchased individually numbered ‘golden egg’ containers via electronic payment processors, after which a ‘host’ opened their egg to reveal the prize inside to the livestream audience.
One report featured the host of the Dyon Live Entertainment Game Show who said each of his ‘shows’ attracted around 50 customers, one of whom spent S$1,200 to buy around 80 golden eggs. Another social media ‘game show’ reportedly garners 3k viewers for its streams.
Singapore’s authorities are notoriously strict about restricting access to unauthorized gambling products, and we can reliably expect reports over the next few weeks about some of these game show hosts being clapped in irons, with any luck, during a livestreamed event.