Singapore criminalises online gambling – who is affected?
Jan29

Singapore criminalises online gambling – who is affected?

From Monday, 2 February 2015, the full force of Singapore’s extensive new Remote Gambling Act will be felt, both inside and outside of Singapore. The Act will criminalise the entire spectrum of remote gambling activities. The restrictions are extremely broad and will be felt by operators, agents, brokers, service providers, broadcasters, advertising networks, payment processors, financial institutions, ISPs – and, of course players, with potential sanctions including site blocking, payment blocking, fines and prison terms. As with any new law, particularly one that is so broad in scope, there are a number of grey areas, so we look here at some of the implications for different categories of individual and organisation within the remote gaming ecosystem. What does the Remote Gambling Act mean for…? Gambling operators based outside of Singapore Operators based outside of Singapore will need to take operational measures to comply, otherwise they risk falling foul of the extra-territorial measures of the Act that apply to services with a “Singapore customer link”. The long arm of the new law actually requires operators based overseas to make operational changes in order to comply. These include informing prospective customers that Singapore law prohibits the provision of the service to Singapore-based users, updating terms and conditions and taking “such other measures as far as reasonably practicable to ensure that the service did not, or could not reasonably have, a Singapore-customer link”. It remains unclear at this time whether geoblocking will be a minimum expected requirement. With extra-territorial laws, enforcement is always the challenge, which is why the Government is introducing payment blocking (via local financial institutions) and site blocking (via local ISPs) as part of the Act, with these measures to kick in immediately from Monday, 2 February. The MHA is reportedly preparing a list of online gambling sites to target. The Government has also indicated that it could seek the extradition to Singapore of individuals involved in the operation of offshore remote gambling services that target Singapore, although one would expect that to be reserved for very serious cases. Gambling operators based in Singapore From 2 February, it will be illegal to run a “Singapore-based remote gambling service”. Put simply, if the service is based in Singapore then the rules apply, wherever the customers are based. It does not matter whether the service targets Singapore customers or foreign customers, so geoblocking Singapore will not be a workaround. A service will be viewed as a “Singapore-based remote gambling service” if: (a)    The service is provided in the course of carrying on a business in Singapore; (b)   The central management and control of the service is in Singapore; or (c)    Where the...

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Singapore: online gambling regulation on the way?
May10

Singapore: online gambling regulation on the way?

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. Photo of Marina Bay Sands is “Singapore”, by Luca...

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