Singapore is rightly considered to be one of Asia's largest gaming centres, but even 15 years ago gambling was strictly forbidden in the country. How did the country manage to make such a rapid leap, and whether there are still any peaks that have not been taken for operators.
Singapore, like many other conservative countries, refused to legalise the gambling industry for a long time, but then, in 2005, there was a paradigm shift in the government's attitude: the market did not just earn, but became an example for others.
Before analysing the current state of affairs, we suggest finding out where it all started.
The history of the gambling industry in Singapore
The history of the gambling industry in Singapore goes back to colonial times. In 1923, the British government decided to legalise gambling. However, the first experiment proved extremely unsuccessful and ludomania and an increase in crime began to flourish in the colony. Gambling addiction and the criminalisation of society led to gambling again being out of legal bounds for many years to come. There were only two types of gaming, lottery operations and racing bets, which made it an exceptional place. But in 2005, fortunately for users and operators, there was a breakthrough - Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon announced the government's decision to create two integrated resorts in the southern part of the country - on Sentosa Island. The aim of legalising the gambling business in this format was to improve the tourism infrastructure. In addition to the fact that the gaming industry could and did contribute to the growth of tourism and entertainment, Singapore needed to become part of a market in which neighbouring countries had already expanded their activities. In the same year, a tender was announced for the right to build, develop and manage an integrated resort. Three companies took part in the tender for the construction of a casino resort on Sentosa Island. The winner was a joint project by Genting International and architect Michael Graves. The Resorts World Sentosa gambling house was opened in February 2010. The second tender attracted a wider audience and 19 companies took part. The proposal from Las Vegas Sands was considered the best, not least of which was the impressive architectural project by Moshe Safdi. The Marina Bay Sands Casino was opened in April 2010. The building housing the gambling house was later recognised as the most expensive in the world. Investments in its creation amounted to $5.7 billion. Read about the expansion of the project in a separate article.
Gambling industry in Singapore: general data
The land-based gambling segment in Singapore is regulated by three laws at once: on rates, on gambling houses and on private lotteries.
The online gambling segment is regulated by the law on remote gambling. This not only refers to online casinos, but also to remote betting and lottery operations.
The gaming industry in Singapore is supervised by several government agencies. Ground-based gambling establishments are supervised by CRA. The authority is responsible for licensing land segment operators. The Criminal Investigation Department of Singapore is responsible for identifying and enforcing decisions related to violations in the industry.
In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are also involved in managing the industry. The MHA is responsible for some aspects of operators' work, such as blocking payments to unlicensed operators or access to online platforms.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development and the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) ensure that the potential harm associated with gambling operations is minimised. NCPG is also responsible for restricting access to gambling activities.
The Singapore Totalizator Council oversees the work of Singapore Turf Club and Singapore Pools, the two main operators that organise betting on horse racing.
It should be noted that the dominance of agencies responsible for the gambling industry will soon be reformed. You can read about exactly how in a separate section of the article.
Allowed forms of gambling
In Singapore, such forms of gambling are permitted - poker, bookmaking, casino gambling - card and board games, lotteries.
Online gaming operations are prohibited in Singapore. In 2016, the Ministry of the Interior granted two state operators the right to organise online betting on the totalizator.