Asia’s love affair with gambling is no secret. From sports betting to roulette, blackjack and baccarat, the Asian gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar market that has left few countries untouched. For all that, Singapore has long held a reputation as the odd one out in Asia.
While undoubtedly a highly successful country that is a model of success according to various metrics, it doesn’t confirm to the traditional Asian way of doing things. When it comes to gambling, the pastime is not wholly legal, instead occupying a quasi-legal territory that has done nothing to stop Singaporeans from gambling online.
Gambling law clings to grey areas in seemingly every country where players are prone to play, and Singapore is no exception. Officially, gambling is outlawed in the country (or rather the city-state, as it would be more accurate to describe Singapore), but unofficially the trade in online gambling is in rude health, with a substantial proportion of the nation’s residents regularly playing online at casinos and roulette sites of their choosing.
The Singapore government differentiates between what’s done in public and what’s done in private. As a consequence, while it wouldn’t do to be seen gambling online in an internet cafe, in the privacy of your own home the authorities have little interest in prying.
Roulette Popular in Singapore
Singapore may not conform to the same conventions that characterise other Asian nations, but when it comes to gambling, its citizenry are every bit as devoted as their neighbours.
Table games are particularly popular throughout Asia, and in Singapore roulette, blackjack, poker and baccarat, along with more niche card games such as Sic Bo, enjoy mass appeal. Officially, all forms of online gambling are illegal in Singapore, but as in all countries where the pastime is regulated, it’s largely impossible for the government to intervene.
Short of implementing statewide filtering, like the Great Firewall of China, it is impractical to dictate the browsing habits of an entire country. Gamblers based in Singapore can get their thrills the way those of any other enterprising nation can: by playing at overseas casinos, roulette sites and sportsbooks.
What the Singapore Law Says About Gambling
The main laws that restrict gambling in Singapore are the Betting Act and the Common Gaming House Act. These essentially outlaw gambling with the exception of members of racing clubs, for whom betting is permitted. These laws do not cover online gambling explicitly however, hence the grey area.
What can be said for sure is that there are no Singapore-operated casinos to be found on the web. Their absence has done nothing to deter the country’s populace from gambling online however, which they do in their droves.
Sites Where Singapore-Based Players Can Play Roulette
Im practical terms, Singapore-based players can play anywhere they like on the web, and that’s exactly what they do. Many web-based casinos and betting sites, especially those operating in Asia, have no qualms about catering for players based in Singapore, providing language and currency options to suit.
To date, no Singapore-based player has ever been charged with gambling online, and it seems unlikely that this will ever happen. Short of flaunting your gambling habits publicly or openly playing in public spaces, there is no realistic prospect of the government ever paying heed.
Changes to the Gambling Law in Singapore
While the foregoing has held true in Singapore for decades in regards to gambling, all that is poised to change. In September 2016, bold plans were announced to shake up the country’s dated gambling laws. In a dramatic reversal, the country has declared its intentions to become one of the world’s major gaming hotspots with the launch of several sprawling new casinos.
These will cater for the demand for roulette and other table games, not just among residents, but for the many tourists from across Asia and the rest of the world who flock to Singapore.
The first signs that Singapore’s gambling laws were changing was heralded by the opening of two large casinos in 2015 including the ornate Marina Bay Sands, complete with scores of roulette and poker tables, crystal chandeliers and VIP rooms, designed to cater to the needs of A-list celebs.
The two casinos that opened in 2015, at a cost of some $10 billion, will soon be supplemented by a handful of others, all geared around attracting a bigger slice of the Asian tourist economy. Macao in China has historically been the source of casino gambling in Asia, but Singapore is on course to usurp it.
Are Roulette Gamblers Are Protected in Singapore?
Thanks in part to the country’s volte-face on gambling, Singapore’s gamblers now find themselves enjoying protections that they were previously denied. Because residents are required to pay a sum to enter any of the city-state’s casinos – a day pass costs in the region of $80 – problem gamblers are less inclined to enter.
Admittedly, there’s nothing stopping them from indulging in their addiction from the comfort of their own home, but in public at least, it’s harder for them to gamble casually. What’s more, family members are encouraged to proactively blacklist relatives whose gambling is deemed to be becoming a problem.
Gambling Advertising in Singapore
Because Singapore-based online casinos do not exist as it stands, there are no laws dictating policy on marketing at Singapore citizens. Operators of land-based casinos are banned from advertising locally, and naturally overseas operators of online casinos are unable to directly target Singapore-based players.
Due to the global nature of the web however it isn’t hard for Singaporeans to discover sites where they can indulge their penchant for roulette and other games.
The Future of Online Gambling in Singapore
Thanks to the new laws that have been passed, Singapore’s policy on online gambling is also set to ease up, but initially there will be few beneficiaries. Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club will be permitted to operate online, offering sports betting including football, horse racing, 4D and Toto, but shall be prohibited from providing poker, roulette and other casino games. Other Singapore operators are still prohibited from establishing an online gambling presence and electronic payments to gambling sites are blocked.
Players must be 21 to open an account with the government-backed Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club, and the sites’ operators face hefty fines if they are found to have breached the conditions laid down by the government.
Because the legislation that has been passed in Singapore is still fresh, it’s too early to say whether this will herald further relaxing of the country’s gambling laws.
For now, if you’d like to play roulette in the country, you have two options: to pay for a day pass to enter one of the land-based casinos or to play online at an overseas casino. While this situation is less than ideal, players are not targeted by the government provided they exercise discretion. If you want to gamble in Singapore, you can.
Is gambling legal in Singapore?
Yes, but it’s tightly regulated and Singaporean companies are prohibited from offering casino-style games online.
How old do you have to be to gamble in Singapore?
You must be 21 to play at one of the state’s two government-sanctioned betting sites.
Is there any tax on gambling winnings in Singapore?
How can I transfer funds to an overseas casino from Singapore?
By using a method that circumvents the country’s barring of electronic payments for gambling. Credit card is out then, but e-wallets should still work.