No surge for Singapore online gambling sites

Business News

There has not been a surge in bets placed with Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club after they were allowed to operate online gambling sites and most of the punters who placed bets online appear not to be first-time gamblers.

Mrs Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Home Affairs, revealed this in Parliament on Wednesday (Feb 28), in reply to a question from Workers’ Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera.

About 30 per cent of Singapore Pools’ and 80 per cent of Singapore Turf Club’s remote account holders have previously held telephone betting accounts, said Mrs Teo.

“Among those who had previously not held telephone betting accounts, over 95 per cent of them indicated that they had placed bets with the operators in the preceding 12 months,” she added.

“In short, a large majority appear not to be first-time gamblers.”

Mr Perera had asked about the number of new and current gamblers on sites operated by the two local lottery operators Singapore Pools’ and Singapore Turf Club.

He also wanted to know these local gambling sites, introduced in 2016, have encouraged gamblers to spend more.

Mrs Teo said: “It is not possible to ascertain whether these remote account holders have simply switched from other platforms, including illegal ones, or have increased their total gambling.”

But she added that there has not been “a surge in the sum of bets placed” with the two operators since they were exempted in 2016 from the Remote Gambling Act, which outlaws online and phone gambling. The authorities allowed the exemption but said the operators will have to put in place safeguards, such as allowing only those above 21 to open accounts.

Mrs Teo noted that the two operators’ turnover grew by 2.6 per cent last year, comparable to the average annual growth of 2.4 per cent between financial years 2012 to 2015.

“On the other hand, according to an gambling consultancy firm, the local underground remote gambling market grew only by 0.3 per cent in 2017, lower than the average annual growth rate of 3.1 per cent between 2012 and 2016,” she added.