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    Sep 30, 2016

    Online betting here soon with safeguards

    ONLINE betting will be introduced in Singapore over the next two months after Singapore-based lottery operators Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club (STC) were given the go-ahead to run online betting platforms.

    The two operators will be exempted from the Remote Gambling Act, which outlaws online and phone gambling, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday, confirming a recent Straits Times report which had flagged this.

    But the operators have to put in place safeguards, such as allowing only those above 21 to open accounts and requiring players to set daily limits on how much they want to spend on online gambling.

    Singapore Pools will launch its online betting services on Oct 25 and Turf Club will launch its new Web and mobile platform on Nov 15.

    Punters can place bets only for 4D, Toto, football, F1 sports and horse-racing. Casino-style games or poker will not be allowed under this move.

    The exemptions will last for three years and the operators can apply for renewal of exemptions.

    Since the Act came into force in February last year, several hundred websites that offer remote gambling services have been blocked.

    More than 120 people have also been arrested for remote gambling offences.

    The Act was passed into law in late 2014 following intense debate spanning the political spectrum, and the move to grant the exemptions once again reignited concerns that this will make online betting more accessible, and lead to an increase in gambling addictions.

    MHA it was not "straightforward to eradicate remote gambling totally".

    Its spokesman said: "A complete ban would only serve to drive remote gambling underground, making it harder to detect, and exacerbate the associated law-and-order, and social concerns."

    Operators have to "keep their management and operations of the remote gambling services free from criminal influence, ensure integrity of their operations and implement social safeguards and responsible gambling measures".

    Some of these safeguards include the option for self-exclusion, and checks to ensure those that try to open accounts do not have existing casino exclusion orders.

    Operators also have to put in place systems and controls to prevent money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism.

    If the conditions are breached, the operators could be fined up to $1 million and have their exemption status revoked.