Singapore’s state-run gambling monopoly is relaunching its online sports and race betting offering following over two months of pandemic-related shutdown.
In early April, Singapore’s Ministry of Health responded to the city-state’s rising COVID-19 infection rates by imposing a ‘circuit breaker’ of social distancing measures. These not only impacted the two integrated resorts but also both retail and online operations of the Singapore Pools lottery and betting monopoly.
On Sunday, Singapore Pools announced that it would resume online sports betting on Monday while online betting on overseas horseracing would follow suit on Wednesday (17). Phone betting for both products will also be permitted. All retail operations will remain closed until the government signals it’s ready to include off-track betting outlets and lottery retailers in its phased economic reopening plan.
Despite the online reboot, lottery draws will remain suspended until further notice, likely due to the dodgy economics of an online-only operation that can only generate a small percentage of normal sales while still running the risk that one of these few online lottery players might still hit a major jackpot. Prize payment services also remain suspended until further notice.
Singapore Pools’ announcement noted that unauthorized gambling services had “seen rising cases during the Circuit Breaker.” Gambling online with anyone other than Singapore Pools is strictly forbidden under the Remote Gambling Act.
Singapore’s gaming sector is currently in a state of flux that has little to do with COVID-19. Next year will see the creation of a new Gambling Regulatory Authority that will unify oversight of all gaming operations, ending the current hodgepodge of agencies overseeing casinos, betting and lottery operations.
Singapore’s gaming industry recently made international headlines after Bloomberg reported that the US Department of Justice was investigating Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands casino for potential violations of anti-money laundering regulations. The reports led Singapore authorities to consider reducing their financial transaction reporting thresholds to bring the jurisdiction into compliance with Financial Action Task Force standards.