Authorities to crack down on illegal and problem gambling during World Cup

The Straits Times
 
Authorities to crack down on illegal and problem gambling during World Cup
MyBookie

SINGAPORE – As football fans gear up for the impending World Cup in Qatar, the authorities are stepping up their efforts to curb illegal and problem gambling for the duration of the tournament, which runs from Nov 20 to Dec 18.

In a joint media statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) stressed that individuals should exercise personal responsibility when gambling.

They also emphasised that the police would clamp down on those who do so illegally.

Under the Gambling Control Act, which took effect on Aug 1, 2022, all gambling activities in Singapore are prohibited unless they are licensed, class-licensed or exempted, with Singapore Pools being the only operator licensed to provide lotteries and sports betting services.

Those found to have conducted illegal gambling can face jail time of up to seven years and a fine of up to $500,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $700,000.

Individuals found to have placed bets with an unlicensed service provider can be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000.

So far, the Gambling Regulatory Authority has blocked about 1,200 remote gambling sites, as well as $33 million in payments linked to remote gambling services. It also froze 250 bank accounts.

Besides enforcement actions, the authorities will also intensify public education efforts, the statement said.

The National Council on Problem Gambling will kick-start a campaign to “caution the public on the harm of excessive football betting”.

As part of the campaign, a video will be screened before and after World Cup matches to highlight the issue.

Advertisements will also be put up on various platforms both physically and digitally, including radio stations, newspapers, social media, HDB lift panels and bus-stop shelters.

Mr Sim Gim Guan, chairman of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said: “The World Cup is a major sporting event that should be enjoyed without the fear of gambling debts.

“We urge everyone to exercise personal responsibility and keep a lookout for their family and friends who may be affected by problem gambling.”

The National Crime Prevention Council will complement the campaign against problem gambling by focusing on illegal betting and warn the public about the risks of engaging with those who provide such services.

Various public service announcements on illegal betting will be carried on television, social media and at public places.

Balloon clappers and hand fans featuring messages discouraging illegal betting will also be distributed at public venues that show live telecasts of the World Cup.

On July 17, the police arrested 24 men and five women between the ages of 32 and 75 for their suspected involvement in providing illegal remote gambling services.

They seized about $730,000 in cash, as well as electronic devices, such as computers and mobile phones, and gambling-related documents.

The suspects’ bank accounts were frozen, and four of the men – aged between 39 and 68 – have been charged in court. Investigations are ongoing.

Those struggling with problem gambling can request anonymous e-counselling via the National Problem Gambling Helpline on 1800-6-668-668 or via Webchat at www.ncpg.org.sg

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