In some pretty major gambling news to come out of South Asia, Singapore could be just about to ban online gambling within the country. While the government already has strict measures in place to deter Singapore residents from gambling – including barring people from the 2 land based Singaporean casinos – it seems they wish to extend that reach online.
Second Minister for Home Affairs, S. Iswaran, told the world that the government wished to change Singaporean gambling laws to ensure that Singaporeans could not access websites that “can potentially become a source or conduit of funds for other illegal activities and syndicated crime.”
The move isn’t totally out of the blue, however, as Iswaran told the Casino Regulatory Authority, at their May workplan seminar, that online casinos in Singapore were more addictive than land-based casinos. Indeed, producing statistics that showed 30% of Singaporeans have gambled online at least once in the past year seemed to back this up.
The new laws could include requiring internet providers to block the IP addresses of gambling sites, asking financial institutions to stop processing transactions related to gambling, as well as banning any form of advertising for online gambling. Meanwhile, authorities would be given more powers to clamp down on providers.
Of course, banning legal gambling always brings with it the problem of unscrupulous black market casinos opening up, casinos that can be far more dangerous than their regulated relatives. In other Asian countries where gambling is not permitted, illegal gambling rings have taken root, as evidenced by recent arrests in Thailand and China.
As such, the Singaporean government could find a place for some forms of gambling, discussing a move similar to the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s monopoly over horseracing, football betting and lotteries. This would provide limited betting opportunities to Singaporeans, but there would no longer be online casinos.