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Singapore allows online gambling

Singaporeans are to be allowed to gamble online through lottery operators Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club (STC), Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said.03 Oct 2016

The two operators will be allowed to offer remote gambling services for their existing products, under a stringent set of conditions, the MHA said.

The Singapore parliament passed the Remote Gambling Act two years ago, banning online and phone gambling. Companies that organise, manage or supervise remote gambling services and make them available to Singapore consumers face fines of up to S$500,000 (£281,000).

"The law takes a prohibitive stance against gambling," the MHA said

"It prohibits remote gambling activities and provides law enforcement agencies with the powers to tackle remote gambling and its associated concerns. The Act criminalises the entire spectrum of remote gambling activities, from individual gamblers to persons who facilitate or provide remote gambling services. It also provides for a comprehensive set of blocking measures, namely website blocking, payment blocking and advertising bans. This law is part of a multi-pronged strategy to deal with remote gambling," the MHA said.

However, the Act allows operators to be exempt if they are not-for-profit and contribute to public, social and charitable causes in Singapore. Both STC and Singapore Pools meet these criteria, as not-for-profit organisations operated by the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board), a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance.

"A complete ban would only serve to drive remote gambling underground, making it harder to detect, and exacerbate the associated law and order and social concerns. The Act therefore provides for a tightly-controlled exempt operator regime to mitigate these concerns," the MHA said.

STC and Singapore Pools will have to "keep their management and operations of the remote gambling services free from criminal influence, ensure integrity of their operations and implement social safeguards and responsible gambling measures," it said.

The organisations will be issued exemption certificates when they launch their remote gambling services in the next two months, and the certificates will be valid for a period of three years, the MHA said.