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    Sep 15, 2016

    Punters may place bets online from Oct

    PUNTERS may be able to place their bets online legally as early as the second half of next month - a move that appears calculated to counter illicit gambling on unauthorised websites.

    The Straits Times has learnt that Singapore-based lottery operators Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club (STC) have applied to be exempted from laws that curb online betting and are looking to launch their online betting service once the applications are approved.

    Responding to queries, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) would say only that it is evaluating applications from Singapore Pools and STC.

    But ST understands that both lottery operators are running final tests of their online betting platforms and have prepared advisories to the area managers and customers. They are hoping to be exempted from the Remote Gambling Act by the end of this month.

    Details are still being finalised but it appears that all lotteries and games, except for Big Sweep, will be available online.

    But betting options will be limited.

    It is also understood that the operators will be able to take live bets online.

    Currently, punters can already place bets through their phones during an ongoing game or match.

    Singapore Pools offers betting on football and motor-racing, as well as lottery games like 4-D and Toto.

    STC takes bets for horse races.

    The latest move to ease strict online gambling for the two operators comes two years after Parliament passed the Remote Gambling Act, which outlawed online and phone gambling. Hundreds of websites that offer remote gambling services have since been blocked.

    But it was not a blanket ban - then Second Home Affairs Minister S. Iswaran said an outright ban could drive illegal remote gambling activity underground.

    An operator could be exempted from the Act provided it was not-for-profit and contributed to public, social and charitable causes in Singapore.

    Both STC and Singapore Pools are not-for-profit organisations operated by the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board), a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance. Their gaming surpluses are channelled to the Tote Board to fund charitable and social causes.

    But MPs then said the exemption clause sends mixed signals.

    Allowing punters to place their bets online would make betting more convenient - but may also lead to a whole host of other problems, social workers warned.