The Singapore Government has once again confirmed that it is considering new measures to restrict online gambling. In a speech on 10 May a Government spokesperson confirmed that it is monitoring the regulatory approaches taken in other jurisdictions with a view to imposing new measures. It has also put a timeframe on the review process – confirming that it should be complete by the end of the year.
In line with its previous statements on the subject, the Government’s concerns are once again focused on a desire to provide protection for citizens from issues of addiction.
Given the relaxation of the land-based casino industry recently, some might wonder whether the Government is going to be tempted to relax the online regime in a similar way. That is unlikely – the relaxation of casino regulation was influenced by economic factors that are not so relevant to the online market (largely tourism and employment) and consequently this is not necessarily a useful indicator of the likely approach to online regulation.
The jurisdictions mentioned by the Government include Hong Kong, Norway, the UK, France, Australia and the US – so they cover a very broad range of regulatory approaches, from proscriptive / restrictive through to relatively “open”. On the one hand, this might suggest that it is considering some form of licensing regime. On the other hand, the Government’s policy seems to have “complete eradication” of online gambling in mind, albeit that it acknowledges that technological change will render that difficult.
It is certainly difficult to imagine Singapore opting for a more “open” model such as that in the UK and it seems more likely that any framework would be a combination of proscriptive and licensing. In any event, we should now find out which path the Government is going to choose by the end of this year.