Out-Law News | 08 Sep 2014 | 12:38 pm | 2 min. read
A draft Remote Gambling Bill has been introduced before Singapore's parliament and proposes a general ban on remote gambling in the country.
Gambling operators based in Singapore and which provide remote gambling services to consumers based outside the country, as well as operators based outside Singapore and targeting their services at Singapore consumers, are subject to the general prohibition.
However, gambling operators will be able to obtain a certificate of exemption from the new rules and will be able to provide remote gambling services to Singapore consumers where Singapore's government considers it to be "in the public interest" to provide such an exemption.
Whether operators are based in Singapore and the subsequent ease with which any conditions of certificates of exemption can be enforced is one of a number of factors Singapore's government could consider when carrying out the 'public interest' test.
Other relevant factors in the public interest assessment may be whether operators are not-for-profit organisations or whether the operators have "a consistent track record of compliance with legal and regulatory requirements applicable to it, whether in relation to remote gambling or otherwise and whether in Singapore or elsewhere", according to the Bill.
Gambling law expert Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "The emergence of the not-for-profit Singapore entities-only exemption allows the current incumbents to continue providing gambling services as they have done to-date."
However, where no certification of exemption is given, gambling operators could face a fine for providing remote gambling services in Singapore. Another possible sanction of imprisonment could instead be imposed on individual senior staff members at operators, although they will have a defence against the offence of providing remote gambling services in Singapore if they can show that they "did not know, and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained that the service had a Singapore-customer link".
A new offence of inviting, causing or permitting young people in Singapore to gamble "by means of remote communication" is also proposed. A fine of SIN$300,000 ($240,000) of up to six years in jail are potential sanctions against those that breach the draft new rules.
Publication of remote gambling adverts in Singapore is also to be banned under the new Bill. Companies could face a fine of SIN$20,000 ($16,000) if their online adverts are accessible by Singapore internet users.
Under the Bill, authorities in Singapore would have the power to force internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to gambling websites that flout the new rules, subject to consideration of a range of factors, including how technically feasible it is for ISPs to implement the blocking order.
Singapore's financial services regulator would also have the power, if the proposed rules are introduced as drafted, to order banks and other financial institutions to block payments to gambling operators that breach the breach the planned new remote gambling laws.
"The purpose of this Act is to regulate remote gambling and remote gambling services affecting Singapore with the object of: preventing remote gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime or disorder; and protecting young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by remote gambling," according to the draft Bill.