The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) conducted a public consultation exercise on the proposed framework to restrict remote gambling from 29 Nov 2013 to 10 Jan 2014.
2. MHA received feedback from a range of stakeholders including community and grassroots organisations, religious and social services groups, industry players as well as members of the public. The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) also conducted stakeholder consultation sessions during this period.
Restrict Remote Gambling
3. The majority of respondents welcomed and supported the Government’s move to restrict remote gambling and for Government to take proactive measures to deal with remote gambling.
Implement Blocking measures
4. Many respondents supported the implementation of measures to block access to remote gambling websites and payments to remote gambling operators. Some acknowledged that the blocking measures might not be foolproof and could be circumvented. However, they recognised that these measures would serve to make it difficult for an individual to gamble remotely and send a signal that remote gambling is prohibited. There were also suggestions to set up a reporting channel for members of the public to inform the authorities about new remote gambling websites and illegal remote gambling activities, especially those that target Singaporeans. Respondents also supported the prohibition of advertisements promoting remote gambling as such advertisements could encourage people, especially the young, to participate in remote gambling.
Tightly controlled and limited form of remote gambling
5. There were mixed views on whether the Government should allow a limited form of remote gambling through a strictly regulated authorised entity, as is the case in some jurisdictions.
6. Those who supported a limited form of remote gambling felt that there was a need for a tightly regulated entity that could divert demand away from illegal and unregulated gambling operators. They cited the Hong Kong model, where the operator was a locally-based, not-for-profit entity whose surpluses were channeled to support social and community causes, as a possible model for Singapore to consider.
7. Others called for a complete ban on remote gambling. These respondents felt that the existing terrestrial gambling options were sufficient and no new forms of gambling should be allowed in Singapore. Some respondents highlighted the impact that gambling had on the young, families and society.
Strengthen Public Education
8. There were calls from members of the public, community groups and stakeholders consulted by the NCPG to devote resources to strengthen public education. Strong and sustained efforts were needed to warn the public of the dangers and harms of remote gambling and minimise social costs.
9. MHA would like to thank all who participated in the public consultation exercise. Together with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and other government agencies, we will study the views and feedback received, and the experience of other jurisdictions, as we further develop the regulatory framework on remote gambling.