The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that Singapore Pools Private Limited (Pools) and Singapore Turf Club (STC) are suitable to be exempt operators under the Remote Gambling Act (RGA), therefore, they will be allowed to offer remote gambling services for their existing products, under a stringent set of conditions.
The RGA came into force in February 2015. The law takes a prohibitive stance against gambling. It prohibits remote gambling activities and provides law enforcement agencies with the powers to tackle remote gambling and its associated concerns.
MHA said that the RGA criminalises the entire spectrum of remote gambling activities, from individual gamblers to persons who facilitate or provide remote gambling services. It also provides 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. Other components include stepping up enforcement and expanding public education and outreach.
MHA said that it had conducted thorough checks and assessment of the applications, and found both suitable to be exempt operators. The exemption is granted only for their existing products. The exempt operators will not be allowed to offer casino-style games or poker.
Former Nominated Member of Parliament, Gerald Giam, wrote on his Facebook page that he is totally against the decision to open up the nation to online gambling. He said that the online betting is certainly not beneficial to those who are going to get hooked on gambling, with it becoming a “gateway” to more high stakes gambling.
He also wrote in his blog that everyone he has spoken to is against opening up Singapore to online gambling. One resident told him in exasperation, “这样会害死人! (figuratively, “this will bring much harm to people”) and pointed out the contradiction that the government had been broadcasting advertisements on TV discouraging gambling, yet had gone ahead to expand access to gambling. Mr Giam asked, “whom exactly will this decision benefit?”
Netizens also disproved the decision made by MHA to approve the applications by the two gambling operators to be exempt operators. Most agree that the online betting will only just increase the problems in the country.
Here are what TOC readers wrote :
- Roland Lim wrote, “If people fail to understand why MHA give exemption to Singapore Pool and Turf Club, they must be blind and deaf. Open casinos but afraid people go and gamble. So introduced $100 levy per day and $2000 per year giving the excuse to gain extra revenue. Now encourage people to gamble Online so that can receive more revenue from gaming tax. Is the Govt caring for revenue or citizens’ welfare? SG will be in a disaster under the current leadership. 70% please wake up.”
- Darian wrote, “‘Under the RGA, an exempt operator must be not-for-profit and…’ Turf Club and Singapore Pools are not-for-profit? Really??? Wow, I didn’t know that. So why are they in ‘business?’ Are they performing a free public service by facilitating our inherent need to gamble or something?”
- Rayson Goh wrote, “Whatever happened to all those crap about public consultation after the last GE? Now is everything decided and just announce that it will be done.”
- Elric Low wrote, “Ban the whole SG from going into Casino. Those who wanna go in will need to go through stringent set of conditions. And please remove online gambling. If to deter underground gambling, they need to do controlled online gambling, will we see controlled drug abuse in the future? Or anything else that they deem fit.”
- William Choo wrote, “Kaki lang. Ownself exempt ownself. Just like NTUC Fairprice is exempted from paying corporate tax since day one.”
- Travis Lin wrote, “Taxed = good/legal/exempt/suitable , Can’t be taxed = bad/illegal/unsuitable.”
- Terence Charles Darby wrote, “Whatever pap says, goes. This includes propagating online gambling, but restricted to operator Singapore Pools, in addition to bring on not 1 but 2 full blown casinos onto Singapore soil.”
- Kiam Chye wrote, “‘Under the RGA, an exempt operator must be not-for-profit and be based in Singapore. The only profit goes to the GoVermin, in the form 40 percent gambling tax.”
- Derrick Lim wrote, “Cannot imagine what criterias they used… What if Genting and Sands also want to apply for exemption leh? Since they operate the Casinos, sure they qualify…
Turf Club offer horse racing online. Spore Pools offer sports betting online. Genting and Sands offer Casino gaming online.”