The Remote Gambling Bill was introduced for First Reading in Parliament today.
2. Remote Gambling refers to gambling through means such as the internet, telephone or other kinds of technology for facilitating communication.
3. The global remote gambling industry is large and growing rapidly. Many countries have been reviewing their regulatory regimes to keep pace with this rapidly evolving industry.
4. In Singapore, we have strict laws on gambling. The provision of gambling is not permitted unless specifically allowed for, by way of an exemption or license. However, our current laws do not expressly address remote gambling as they were enacted before the Internet era.
Remote Gambling Bill
5. The Remote Gambling Bill provides the legislative framework to regulate remote gambling activities in Singapore. The objectives for regulating remote gambling are to maintain law and order and protect young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by remote gambling. The Bill will define and prohibit remote gambling activities. It will enable Government to introduce a comprehensive set of blocking measures, namely, website blocking, payment blocking and advertising bans. The Bill also provides for a tightly controlled exemption regime.
6. In developing this Bill, the Ministry of Home Affairs studied the laws and practices of other jurisdictions, such as Hong Kong, Norway and France. A six-week long public consultation was held to seek feedback on the proposed framework. Consultations with grassroots, social services, religious and industry groups were also conducted and their views have been considered.
7. The key provisions of the Bill are as follows:
a) Introduce blocking measures
The Bill provides the powers to implement website access blocking and payment blocking. Websites that may be blocked include those that provide, facilitate or advertise remote gambling. Financial institutions will be instructed to block transfers to accounts linked to persons involved in unlawful remote gambling activities.
b) Criminalise remote gambling activities
The Bill will prohibit all forms of remote gambling activities unless exempted. It will be an offence for persons to gamble remotely, facilitate others to do so, transmit and receive bets and provide remote gambling services. The Bill will also criminalise the act of assisting unauthorised operators. This will give the Police more powers to deal with agents, intermediaries, operators and syndicates. The restrictions within the Bill will apply so long as any part of the gambling activity takes place in Singapore, regardless of where the bet is placed or where the remote gambling operator is located.
c) Prohibit Remote Gambling Advertisement and Promotion
The Bill will make it an offence to advertise and promote any form of remote gambling activity. The prohibition covers all forms of media, both electronic and non-electronic, e.g. internet, broadcast, print media, billboards and hoardings.
d) Protect young persons
Separate offences will be created, with stiffer punishments provided, for those who invite or facilitate young persons (aged below 21 years) to gamble remotely and those who employ young persons in the provision of remote gambling services.
e) Provide for tightly controlled exemption regime
An entity can apply to be an exempt operator if it meets certain qualifying criteria. The entity should be based in Singapore; be not-for-profit; contribute to public, social or charitable purposes in Singapore and have a good track record of compliance with Singapore’s legal and regulatory requirements. Exempted entities will be subject to strict operating conditions, in the areas of social safeguards, responsible gambling, gaming integrity and law and order.