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S'pore lottery operator looking to start gambling website
Publication Date : 13-12-2013
Singapore Pools is looking to launch the first licensed gambling website to be based in Singapore.
It comes two weeks after the government announced plans to limit access to remote gambling platforms such as those on the Internet and accessible via mobile gadgets.
Sources told The Straits Times the lottery operator is exploring ways to offer an online betting option to registered members as part of plans to revamp its portal. One proposal is upgrading the existing members portal to allow those who sign up with its phone betting system to place bets online. They can now log on only to check previous transactions and must call a hotline to place bets.
Adults who want to register as members and set up accounts must meet criteria like passing identity and credit history checks.
A decision on whether to go ahead is expected to be made as early as mid-next month, after public consultation on how best to tighten remote gambling laws.
Singapore Pools declined to confirm plans, with a spokesman saying it would be "premature" to comment. But sources close to the matter said its IT department began to design a members website with an online betting function about two months ago, aiming to finish it for June's World Cup.
It is understood the authorities rejected previous attempts to set up a betting website. This time, Singapore Pools is said to have been in talks with government agencies including the National Council on Problem Gambling.
The government has been studying how best to limit access to remote gambling platforms. Last month, Second Home Affairs Minister S. Iswaran said it will block gambling websites, payments to these and related advertising, possibly by early next year.
But there will be exceptions as it seeks feedback on whether to allow a limited form of gambling on some sites. This would be similar to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, an online licensee offering on-site and remote betting.
Analysts estimate that Singapore's remote gambling market is worth more than S$370 million (US$294 million), and is expected to grow by 6 per cent to 7 per cent annually.
A recent Ministry of Home Affairs survey of 1,000 Internet users found that almost three in 10 had gambled remotely at least once in the past year.
Iswaran said a total ban may also create problems with gambling going underground.
Warwick Bartlett, chief executive of Britain-based Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, said of the Singapore Pools idea: "It is much better to have the legal entity that has passed the government's stringent standards and brand that punters trust."