Online Gambling Legalities in Singapore

Last Updated: October 12, 2014 – Singapore Parliament issued a ban for online gambling in citing protectionism of their youth in this “Remote Gambling Bill”. The bill has now passed and is requiring ISP blocks to betting sites. It is now considered illegal to play casino/poker/sports style betting on the internet with a S$5,000 fine and/or up to 6 months in jail. The following text below was prior to this Act, online gambling is now illegal aside from certain lotteries.

Before Gambling Became Illegal
Singapore is a gambling friendly country although it offers limited legal gambling options. The country’s gambling laws, being old and outdated, do not apply to online gambling and gambling experts say that the country has to legalize and regulate online gambling to protect vulnerable people such as gambling addicts, underage players, and problem gamblers, to discourage criminal activities, and to create a safe and fair gambling environment for its citizens. So far, Singapore has not created such laws.

Legal Gambling in Singapore

The lack of effective gambling laws in Singapore does not mean that its citizens are deprived of the pleasures of gambling in a licensed and well-regulated environment. Those fond of betting on sports events can avail of the services of Singapore Pools, a bookie service operated by the government. Singapore Pools accepts bets on national as well as international sports events either online or through telephone or mobile devices.

The Singapore Turf Club, which was launched as the Singapore Sporting Club in 1842, is another exciting option for sports bettors as it accepts bets on a wide range of international and national horse racing events.

Singapore also has a couple of licensed casinos, which offer a wide range of casino games, including poker.

Gambling Laws

Singapore has two important gambling laws — the Common Gaming Houses Act and the Betting Act. Both make it illegal for private companies and individuals to operate online as well as land-based bookie businesses within the country. According to these laws, the only legal way to bet on sports and horse racing events is to do so at either The Turf Club or The Singapore Pools.

The Betting Act was enacted in 1960 to curb illegal bookie businesses and to make the act of sports betting in public places illegal. The Common Gaming Houses Act was passed in 1961 with the same objective. Seven years later, the government created a monopoly called The Singapore Pools, which began offering lottery games, sweepstakes, and Toto. In 1999 and 2008, the government began permitting betting on football matches and Formula One racing events, respectively.

Casinos in Singapore

Casinos were legalized in Singapore only in 2006. Before that, Singapore had a small government-owned casino in Changi International Airport, which was launched to generate revenue from foreign tourists who had to pass through the airport.

In 2006, Singapore enacted its Casino Control Act, which permitted the establishment of two full-fledged brick-and-mortar casinos in the country. These casinos, called the Resorts World and the Marina Bay Sands, are regulated by the Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore.

Online Sports Betting

Though legalized, online sports betting is heavily restricted in Singapore, as a result of which the country’s only legal online sportsbook is The Singapore Pools. Interestingly, there is nothing to stop citizens of Singapore from registering at offshore online bookies such as Bet365, William Hill, and Ladbrokes.

The two major gambling laws of Singapore, the Common Gaming Houses Act and the Betting Act, were enacted long before the days of the Internet. They, therefore, do not apply to any form of online or mobile gaming. There is no statement in Singapore’s law books, which specifically says that it is illegal for residents to bet on sports events at offshore online sportsbooks. This leaves citizens free to use the services of offshore online bookies.