Legislation passed in 2014 provided a much needed update and clarification of the gambling laws of Singapore. Unfortunately, the Remote Gambling Act of 2014 banned online betting in Singapore to the point where it is a crime to even play online at overseas betting sites.
The most recent gaming laws in the country represent a drastic attempt to crack down on offshore gambling sites. It is now an offense for residents to bet on sports, play casino games or participate in online poker at any Singaporean betting site. The 2014 Act also includes provisions that allow the government to block access to gaming websites and deposits to gaming operators.
Now, the closest thing to legal online gambling in Singapore is a single government-owned website called Singapore Pools. The website does not offer actual online gambling, but it does allow customers to sign up for accounts, place bets by phone, track transactions online and receive payments to the online account.
Best Singapore Betting Sites
Please note that there ARE criminal laws in place that ban individual gamblers from signing up and playing at online betting sites in Singapore. Despite the prohibition, there are dozens of gambling sites to choose from for online sports betting, poker and casino games. I do not recommend playing online at this time, but I will provide an overview of what it’s like strictly for information purposes.
If you feel the legal risk is worth it, I strongly urge you to stick with the biggest names in online betting. There’s no need to play at small, unknown betting sites with questionable backgrounds when there are dozens of established operators who have proven over the long term that they know how to put on a safe and fair game. These sites tend to be based out of European countries where online gambling is legal, licensed and regulated.
In addition to questionable legality, the other downside to online gambling in Singapore is dealing with currency exchanges. Since there are no legal Singapore online casinos, every site based out of elsewhere deals in different currencies. You can still deposit in Singapore dollars but you can’t actually play the games using SGD. All deposits are converted into the USD, EUR or GBP at some point.
If you play at a site that does accept SGD deposits, you can fund your account with credit cards, direct bank transfers and e-wallets such as Neteller, Skrill and Click2Pay. If you play at a site that does not accept SGD, you can use an e-wallet to convert your money before depositing. Currency exchange fees are annoying, but it’s better than paying 100 SGD just to walk in the door of any land-based casino in Singapore.
Singapore Gambling Laws
The gambling laws of Singapore are badly outdated and apply to brick-and-mortar gambling only. The only pieces of legislation to come out in recent years include a 2006 law that allowed for the construction of two major casinos and another regulating lotteries.
Five pieces of legislation regulate all gambling in Singapore. These are:
- Remote Gambling Act 2014
- The Betting Act of 1960
- Common Gaming Houses Act of 1961
- Private Lotteries Act of 2011
- Betting and Sweepstakes Duties Act of 1948
- Casino Control Act of 2006
These bills comprise the totality of gambling legislation in Singapore. Only one of these address Singapore online gambling specifically and none provide a licensing mechanism by which gambling sites could ever open on Singapore territory. That leaves us with the current situation in which it is illegal to operate a gaming site inside Singapore or visit one as a customer.
The Casino Control Act of 2006 represents a major missed opportunity by Singapore officials. The Act set up a licensing mechanism for brick-and-mortar casinos but made no mention of the internet even though online gaming was widespread by 2006.
The Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore (CRA) was created by the same act. Its primary function is to monitor Singapore casinos to ensure they remain fair, free from criminal influence and do not exploit the vulnerable. Its secondary function is to issue licenses to land-based casinos. So far, it has issued two licenses: one to Marina Bay Sands near Marina Bay and one to Resorts World at Sentosa on Sentosa island.
As a part of the licensing agreement, these casinos are required to tailor their products to tourists and not encourage locals to play. Both casinos are required to allow foreigners in for free but charge $100 per day to Singapore residents. In 2012, each casino was fined $385,000 for letting citizens in for free, allowing citizens to stay too long and not properly preventing minors from entering.
Singapore also has a state-operated website that allows citizens to bet on certain sports. Singapore Pools provides both online and in-person betting on football and auto racing. It is fairly limited in what it offers but remains popular nonetheless. Singaporeans interested in betting on other sports should look to offshore betting sites.
One other option for wagering is the Singapore Turf Club. This organization was formed in 1842 and acts as the only legal form of horse racing and betting in the country. Citizens can place horse wagers with the Turf Club in person, over the phone and via mobile smartphone apps.
In 2013, Singapore announced that it was preparing legislation to crack down on internet gambling. The CRA noted previously that online gambling was more addictive than land-based betting and found it to be a danger for citizens. The proposed legislation would include web censorship of gambling sites, new regulations requiring the banking industry to block transactions to offshore betting websites and additional restrictions on advertising.
The proposed legislation was passed in 2014 and Singapore’s government continues to discourage citizens from gambling to this day. The anti-gambling campaign was embarrassed in 2014 after running a barrage of ads that depicted a sad-looking boy saying he hoped Germany would win because his dad had bet his life savings on the Germans. When Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 and went on to win the tournament, Singaporeans had a field day mocking the ads.
At the time of this writing, internet gaming is still a bit of a murky subject in Singapore. Gaming laws clearly state that it is an offense, but there seem to be few legal mechanisms in place to enforce the law. Even so, the risk is real and I would recommend Singaporeans be very careful if you decide to play online today.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.