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Singapore Online Casinos

SingaporeSingapore may be perceived as a very tightly controlled and order society, but don’t let that fool you: the people in this small city-state definitely know how to place a bet. Some studies have placed them as the second-biggest per capita gamblers in the world, trailing only Australia in that category. That passion has only been aided by the recent development of two resorts on the island, which are among the most lavish casinos in the world.

The government here has taken a much harder approach when it comes to online gambling, taking steps in order to try and block gaming sites from targeting local players or allowing Singaporeans from playing for real money. But despite these efforts, some companies still offer their services here, meaning Internet casino play is alive and well.

Resorts Mark New Era in Gaming Industry

Gambling has long been a part of the culture in Singapore, dating back to at least the early 1800s. Chinese and Malay residents would bet on cockfights and at gambling houses on a regular basis, and despite several attempted bans, those venues would continue to flourish.

The 20th century saw new options become available for local bettors. In 1933, the long existing Singapore Sporting Club moved to Bukit Timah, opening a much larger race track for fans of the sport. Since 1960, horse racing has been officially open to the public, and it is now held at the Kranji Racecourse – the modern venue for that same club, now known as the Singapore Turf Club.

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World War II brought Japanese occupation to the city, and that in turn resulted in a lottery known as the Konan Saiken, which was designed to help fund the administration set up by the occupiers. While that may have been the first time a widespread state lottery was seen here, it would hardly be the end of the country’s interest in the new games.

In 1968, the first legal lotteries were permitted in the now independent nation. Known as Toto, the first limited drawings sold out in hours, leading to more widespread drawings by 1969. These contests, known as the “Sweep,” started with a first prize of SGD 400,000 ($278,000), which was considered a massive prize at the time. By the early 1980s, the prizes has increased to more than SGD 1 million ($695,000).

But the most popular lottery game of all wouldn’t become available until 1986. That’s when “4D,” a computerized four-digit drawing, began to be held. The game was already known to many Singaporeans, as similar contests had been held at the Turf Club in the 1960s, not to mention throughout Malaysia. More recently, products that allow for some limited betting on both local and international football (soccer) matches have been introduced, as well as scratch-off tickets that offer instant wins.

The biggest change in the city’s gaming industry, however, would not come until 2010. That year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong succeeded in lifting a longstanding ban on casinos, arguing that the country would need to shed its image as a tightly-controlled and uptight nation in order to compete in the Asian tourism market.

The first casino to open was Resorts World Sentosa, which saw its gaming floor first open on February 14. When the Marina Bay Sands opened in 2011, it also proved popular with both locals and visiting tourists. By 2012, both venues were completed as “integrated resorts” that offered not only gaming, but plenty of other entertainment options and amenities for visitors to enjoy.

While the resorts are open to both locals and foreigners, the emphasis is definitely on getting visitors in the door. While not as strict as in some countries that totally ban their own citizens from playing, the laws here do require local residents to purchase either day passes or yearly memberships in order to enter into a casino, and each venue requires a separate pass. While the prices aren’t entirely restrictive – it’s about SGD 100 ($70) for a day pass, or SGD 2,000 ($1,400) for the yearly membership – they serve to discourage regular play, particularly among those who might be most at risk of spending money they can’t afford to lose.

Government Attempts Restrictions on Online Play

The Singaporean government never seemed to look very highly on Internet betting, and that stance became very clear in 2014, when the legislature passed the Remote Gambling Act. That law made online gambling strictly illegal, at least from the operator’s perspective. Under the law, which officially went into effect in early 2015, either offering real money play or even just advertising or promoting such sites was illegal, with fines and jail time possible for offenders.

The government also took steps to block sites that tried to work around the laws. Officials worked with Internet service providers in order to ensure that as many sites as possible could be blocked, with the goal of preventing individuals from getting around the ban by seeking out sites that kept operating despite the legal change.

But all of these efforts have failed to stop some companies from continuing to provide online casino services to players in the country. Singaporeans may not have as wide a range of sites to choose from when it comes to gaming sites, and many firms – particularly publically-owned companies like IGT – aren’t interested in violating the government’s restrictions. But there are still a number of options available from reputable, trusted software providers like RTG and Rival. This has allowed many residents to continue playing their favorite slots and other games over the Internet for real money up through the present day.

Regulated Internet Options May Be On the Horizon

While the Singaporean government may have taken a hard line stance against online casinos, some operators are hoping that they’ll understand that the industry can never be fully contained. That’s why both the Turf Club and the state lottery operator have applied for exemptions under the act that made Internet play illegal.

Should these groups get their exemptions, they would like to offer betting on major sports events, such as the Euro 2016 football tournament, as well as lottery products that already exist in the physical world. Government officials have said that the applications will be taken seriously, but said they could take up to a year to evaluate, which means it may be as late as June or July 2016 before a final verdict is rendered.

Even if licenses should be awarded, these sites would fall short of full casino-style gaming options, which the government is unlikely to approve anytime soon. That means that for gamblers who want to play the same games over the Internet that they can enjoy in the two fabulous resorts here, foreign sites that slip through the cracks of the government ban are going to be the only option for some time to come.

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