Online gambling in Singapore, as in many other parts of Asia, is a truly unique landscape. No other region in the world has had such a topsy-turvy relationship with gambling (in all its forms) as the Asian continent. Generally speaking, most gambling is illegal in Asia. That means that by gambling there, a citizen would be committing an offense punishable by fines or jail time. Where it is not illegal, it is generally frowned upon and viewed as a social evil. This is understandable given that Islamism and Hinduism are the most prevalent religions in most Asian countries. The most ascetic followers of these religions regard gambling as sinful. Islam is practically hard on the hobby, with Sharia law terming it “immoral and sacrilegious.”
Governments in Asia are secular on paper, but in an actual sense, strongly influenced by religion. And as much as they might try to deny it, this religious influence has a tangible say in legal matters. Online gambling in Singapore is impacted by this factor similarly as elsewhere on the continent. Gambling’s link to organised crime and money laundering doesn’t help. Given these cultural and religious (or legal) hindrances, one might imagine Asia’s gambling industry to be in a deep abyss with no hope of redemption. They couldn’t be more WRONG! Online gambling in Singapore and the rest of Asia has seen such tremendous growth in the last few decades that it has surpassed many other parts of the world. The sports betting market, too, despite challenges, is reaching levels that no one could’ve pictured. Let’s see how that is.
Sports Betting/Online Gambling in Singapore – Legal or Illegal?
The government of Singapore has always been very stern about gambling matters, showing more aggression than most other Asian countries in clamping down on an activity it views as a vice. Hence, before 2016, any form of online gambling in Singapore, including online sports betting, was illegal. The Remote Gambling Bill, a piece of legislation passed in 2014, made all online gambling (a.k.a. remote gambling in Singapore) unlawful. Therefore, it was illegal for any operator (whether domestic or foreign) to operate a gambling company within Singapore’s borders. It was also unlawful to:
- To participate in any form of online gambling as a Singaporean.
- Advertise or market any form of online gambling in Singapore.
- Not ban any website (for ISPs) when requested to do so by the state.
- Carry out any financial transaction related to remote gambling.
2016 was when the legal status of online gambling in Singapore changed or improved somewhat. Singapore Pools, a state lottery company, was licensed to offer remote gambling and sports betting services through a special provision by the Ministry of Home Affairs. So, in a nutshell, at the time of writing, remote gambling in Singapore, as well as sports betting, is not illegal. It’s only illegal to participate in ANY form of remote gambling via any other platform apart from Singapore Pools. This effectively means that the domestic online gambling and sports betting market in Singapore is a government monopoly. It can not really be referred to as a “market.”
And Non Remote Gambling?
Thankfully for Singaporean punters, online gambling is the only form of gambling that seems strictly censured. Since independence from Britain in 1963, traditional, land-based gambling such as soccer betting, 4D, horse racing, etc., have gently been made legal. The ban on casino gambling was also lifted in 2005, although it is heavily regulated to mitigate against citizens falling into the traps of problem gambling.
Online Gambling In Singapore – Websites
The government’s explicit ban on online gambling in Singapore doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Several offshore online betting websites still accept Singaporean players. They include:
- Slots Million
- King Billy
- Pinnacle Sports
As can be expected, these foreign sites offer better value odds than the state-owned Singapore Pools. Of course, the government does not approve of this, but police matters online is not easy. Other Asian governments have found out as much.