Singapore Outlaws Web Gambling

Lawmakers in Singapore have approved an online gambling ban that carries heavy fines and prison terms for offenders. Provisions call for ISPs to block sites and banks and financial institutions to refuse monetary transfers. Lottery operator Singapore Pools (l.) will be exempted.

Singapore’s parliament has passed a law making online and remote gambling a crime.

“We prohibit gambling, unless it is specifically allowed for by way of a stringently regulated exemption or license. We will adopt a similar approach to remote gambling,” said the government’s Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaren.

Penalties for individuals, operators and distributors range from fines of US$4,000 to $400,000 and possible prison terms up to seven years.

The ministry said also that websites that “provide, facilitate or advertise remote gambling” will be blocked, and financial institutions will be instructed to reject transfers to accounts linked to persons involved in remote gambling activities.

Exemptions are possible, though, under certain conditions for non-profits that contribute to public, social or charitable causes and have a track record of compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. They will not be allowed to offer casino or poker games, however.

Singapore Pools, a state-owned lottery and gambling operator, also will be exempted. Singapore Pools is owned by Singapore Totalisator Board, a statutory agency under the Ministry of Finance. It currently markets three lottery games and is the sole legal bookmaker for football and motor sports betting.