It’s official: online gambling sites have been shut out as of Monday, February 2. Thanks to the Remote Gambling Act passed in October last year, gambling through remote communication — such as websites or mobile apps — has been made illegal.
Access to several hundred gambling sites has been blocked off to Singaporeans, and anyone who breaks this law may be fined up to S$5,000 and/or jailed up to six months.
A representative from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said to TODAY: “The MHA and the Media Development Authority are working with Internet service providers (ISPs) to ensure that the blocking of websites is implemented smoothly.”
The Act doesn’t just include the websites themselves — advertisements and promotions are also illegal, and any websites found with offending materials will be served notices to remove them.
According to Channel NewsAsia, regular visitors to some gambling websites found themselves unable to withdraw money that they had deposited into the sites.
The MAS has also ordered all licensed banks, card issuers, stored value facilities and operators of payment systems under the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act to block payment orders and fund transmissions from or to remote gambling services.
There could be an exception, however. Local gambling operators Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club will be applying for exemptions from this law, as they currently allow registered customers to place bets via smart devices. Should they fail to get authorisation, they have six months from Monday to stop remote gambling operations.
The Games Continue
With a quick Google check, it’s easy to see that popular sites like bet365 and ibcbet have been blocked. But with a little digging, we found that there are some websites that are still accessible, though it’s possible that they will be blocked soon.
Luckily, online games with in-game payments like Candy Crush are still allowed. Initially a concern for many casual game players, it was clarified last week that games that don’t provide rewards exchangeable for money will not be covered by the Act.
But perhaps we should just stick with the annual Chinese New Year gambling instead. A few dollars in a game of blackjack between family members couldn’t hurt.