Online Gamblers Could Face Jail Time In SingaporeSeptember 17, 2014 2:23 pm
The good news for Singapore is that its online gambling market has risen to be worth $416 million in annual revenues. The bad news, however, is that 95% of that tally is wagered on unregulated, offshore sites. With little benefits of regulation subsequently filtering through to the country’s coffers, the mood has turned decidedly ugly towards online gambling, and now a proposed bill has been presented to the Singapore Parliament calling for a ban on all forms of online gambling, with heavy penalties awaiting those players determined to break the law.
If the Remote Gambling Bill 2014 is eventually approved, not only could company executives promoting their sites spend up to six years behind bars, but individual gamblers could also face a $5,000 fine or up to six months in prison.
In addition, the bill calls for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to unauthorized offshore online gambling sites and grant financial institutions the authority to reject payments to gambling operators. Interestingly, “non-profit” operations with gambling sites based in Singapore will be permitted to continue offering online gambling games provided their activities are deemed “in the public interest”.
While Singapore’s Second Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Iswaran, insists the bill is necessary in order to stop sites acting as “conduit of funds for other illegal activities and organised crime”, the move is also widely seen as an attempt by the country to nationalize its online gaming industry. However, if the example of other countries is to be considered, such as France, Spain and Italy, nationalization may simply precipitate a decline in player traffic leading to less potential revenues for legitimate operators.
Meanwhile, Mexico is also considering a major overhaul of its Federal Law of Games and Raffles (1947) in an attempt to tackle, in part, the country’s huge grey online gambling market. The move could dramatically affect the lot of countless US poker pros who moved to Mexico following Black Friday, and as President of the Mexican Gaming Commission (AIEJA), Miguel Sanchez, explained recently:
“Anything that involves this business [gambling] must be certified, and the information must be transparent. [The AIEJA is] going to regulate and reorder online play, too, [which will help recovery] of the horse and greyhound racing industry.”