Just like Macau, Singapore is a small paradise for gamblers. If you’re a skilled player who’s looking for the next casino destination, Singapore is an excellent choice. But even if you’re a casual player who sometimes plays poker and bingo online, you might want to consider visiting their impressive casinos.
The Private Lotteries Act is available here. Private lottery means a lottery in which tickets or chances are offered for sale only to members of a society which is established for purposes not connected with gaming, wagering or lotteries and such number of guests of each member as the Minister of Home Affairs may prescribe by regulations. The first Singapore casino only opened in 2006, so this is an industry still in its infancy when compared with Las Vegas or Macau, but as Singapore is one of the world’s banking capitals, and with many high-rollers regularly travelling through, you can be sure that high stakes are being risked every night of the week.
Singapore is an independent city-state which is located in Southeast Asia. With the total area of a bit more than 700 square kilometers, it is one of the smallest sovereign countries in the world. However, it is very densely populated and it has almost 6 million residents. Singapore is located on a piece of land with no natural resources, but in spite of that, this country has managed to become very modern and developed. Ever since it became an independent state, Singapore has been constantly improving. Nowadays, Singapore is seen as the smartest and safest city on Earth. Moreover, it is a tax haven with the world’s third highest life expectancy. Their government supports gambling, as it’s legal in this Asian country and contributes lots of money to their economy. Gambling does not have such a long tradition, but many tourists come every year in order to play there.
There is no doubt about that: Singapore is a paradise for risk-takers. Gambling is legal and their luxurious hotels and casinos attract millions of tourists every year. To be more precise, Singapore welcomes more than 17 million foreign tourists a year. That is impressive, especially considering how small Singapore is. Many countries allow foreigners to gamble but impose restrictions on their own citizens. Luckily, the situation in Singapore is not the same. Visiting casinos is a very popular thing to do among the residents of this small country. The gambling industry is very important to the economy of Singapore, but they do not depend on it too much. Besides luxurious casinos, you can enjoy numerous tourist attractions and eat famous local dishes. So, if you decide to visit Singapore but do not want to spend the whole time in a casino, you will have many things to do.
Marina Bay Sands Casino
Marina Bay Sands complex might be the most modern and the most spectacular in the world. It boasts a famous rooftop pool with a breathtaking view of the city and the ocean. In addition to that, there is a luxurious hotel and a whopping 15,000 square meters of casino space. The casino has approximately 500 tables and more than 1,600 slots. Besides that, it is decorated with expensive details and there are almost 40 private rooms for playing. Furthermore, Marina Bay Sands offers a non-smoking section. If you are there and want to make a break from gambling, you can swim in the rooftop infinity pool, rest in the hotel or go shopping. You can find a huge array of expensive shops such as Cartier and Prada. From our point of view, Marina Bay Sands is a serious entertainment complex which won’t leave you disappointed.
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Resorts World Sentosa
This casino is part of a bigger entertainment complex and it is located on an island. It’s a relatively new casino which started operating in 2010. The size of this casino is approximately 15,000 square meters. This casino is very modern and it has a wide selection of games. The permanent residents and citizens of Singapore must pay for a daily pass or purchase the yearly membership. When it comes to foreigners, the situation is entirely different. They only have to show their passport and then they will be able to enter the casino, without paying anything. Aside from the casino, this resort has 7 hotels, restaurants and bars, a theatre, and other interesting facilities. Moreover, we have come across a couple of reviews on the internet and all of them were positive. Both locals and tourists like to go there and those who come once always return again.
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Endless Choices, Extraordinary Quality
When it comes to gambling, Singapore isn’t on the same level as Macau, but it has a lot to offer. Singapore promises excellent casinos as well as horse racing and casino cruises. So, if you love to go on cruises and gamble, you can now combine these two passions. There is a floating casino with more than forty live tables where you can spend a few days. It’s a smart idea for anyone who’s tired of noisy streets and smog. As you can see, Singapore provides you numerous choices and each one of them is equally attractive. This city-state has many pro-gambling laws which allow this industry to develop even further. Hence, we’re almost sure that Singapore will have much more casinos in the future. We don’t know what the future holds, but it in our opinion, it’ll be bright.
What Constitutes Gambling?
Under the Remote Gambling Act (RGA), “gambling” is broadly defined to include betting, gaming, and participating in a lottery.
The RGA defines “betting” to include the staking of money or money’s worth on the outcome of a horse-race or sporting event.
Under the Common Gaming Houses Act (CGHA), “gaming” refers to any game involving an element of chance, or of mixed chance and skill, where players stand to gain money or money’s worth of rewards.
Games which do not involve money (e.g. a simple game of mahjong between friends with no cash involved) do not fall under the CGHA.
The CGHA also regulates public lotteries, which is defined as a lottery to which the public or any class of the public has or may have access. A “lottery” is defined as any game, scheme or competition whereby money or money’s worth is distributed in a manner dependent on chance, whether or not such a lottery is held or managed within or outside Singapore.
When is it Legal to Gamble in Singapore?Gaming in a “common gaming house” is an offence under the CGHA. A “common gaming house” includes any place kept or used for gaming, habitual gaming and public lottery, whether or not the public has access to it.
Thus, whether the gambling behaviour in question crosses the line into an illegal act depends on whether the gambling venue is kept as a common gaming house, or a place to be used for gaming.
While the CGHA does not provide a definition for private gambling, it is generally considered as gambling in a place to which the public may not have access (e.g. at home).
Private gambling constitutes an offence if the place where such gambling is carried out is kept specifically for the purpose of habitual gaming as a common gaming house.
Anyone found guilty of gaming in a common gaming house will be liable for a fine up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term up to 6 months, or to both.
Gambling in public
Gambling in public refers to gambling in a place to which the public may have access and includes any place in which 10 or more persons are employed.
It is illegal to gamble in any public place. For example, gambling at a funeral held in a void deck may be illegal as a void deck is a public place.
However, if the funeral is held in a private place (e.g. rented space for events) to which the public does not have access, gambling there may be illegal as long as the private place in question does not constitute a common gaming house (as mentioned above).
Anyone found guilty of gaming in a public place will be liable for a fine up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term up to 6 months, or to both. Their gaming instruments may also be seized and forfeited.
Placing bets with bookmakers
Bookmakers’ activities are regulated under the Betting Act. Under the Betting Act, a bookmaker is any person who receives or negotiates bets or wagers on a cash or credit basis in exchange for money or money’s worth.
Any person who bets or wagers with a private bookmaker (also known as a “bookie”) in any place or by any means shall be guilty of an offence. Offenders will be liable for a fine up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term up to 6 months, or to both.
On the other hand, it will not be illegal to bet with exempted bookmakers such as Singapore Pools, Tote Board and the licensed casinos here.
Playing with jackpot machines
As jackpot gambling falls under the definition of “gaming” in the CGHA, it is illegal to participate in jackpot gambling in a common gaming house or in public unless the jackpot machine is located in a club which is permitted to operate the machine.
Is there a Minimum Age to Gamble Legally in Singapore?
The minimum age to gamble legally in Singapore varies according to the venue of the gambling activity. There is no one minimum age that applies to all gambling activities.
Generally, you have to be at least 18 years of age to gamble in Singapore. For example, Singapore Pools only allows individuals aged 18 and above to buy 4D or TOTO tickets, or placing horse racing bets. To have an account with Singapore Pools, you need to be at least 21 years old.
Under the Casino Control Act, you have to be at least 21 years of age before you can legally gamble in casinos. Minors found guilty of faking their age to gain entry to the casinos will be liable for a fine up to $1,000.
Online Gambling under the Remote Gaming Act
What is online gambling?
Under the RGA, “online gambling”, also known as “remote gambling”, is defined as gambling in which players participate through remote communication.
Such remote communication includes communication through the Internet, telephone, television or radio, or any other kind of electronic or other technology which facilitates communication.
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Legality of online gambling
Section 8 of the RGA states that anyone who gambles through remote communication and uses a remote gambling service (explained below) shall be guilty of an offence.
It does not matter whether the gambling was done by the individual only, or together with any other person, or whether the individual directly or indirectly participated in the gambling.
What is a gambling service?
A “gambling service” is defined to include a service for the:
- Conduct of a public lottery;
- Supply of public lottery tickets;
- Placing, making or accepting of bets; or
- Conduct of game of chance where the game is played for money, or money’s worth, and customers give money, or money’s worth, to play the game.
Point (4) however, does not apply to social games and mobile applications which allow players to purchase tokens or game-enhancement features. This is as long as these games do not provide facilities to convert these tokens or features to money, or to real-world merchandise which can be exchanged for money.
When is online gambling legal?
Online gambling is legal if it is done through an exempt operator. Currently, only Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club have been granted certificates of exemption under the RGA. However, other operators may be granted certificates of exemption in the future.
In the event of doubt, it would be best to obtain more information as to the exemption status of operators by lodging an inquiry with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Consequences of illegal online gambling
If you have participated in unlawful remote gambling activity, a financial institution provider may be issued with a payment blocking order that may:
- Prevent it from accepting credit extended to you;
- Prevent it from accepting any cheque, bank draft or similar instrument which is drawn by or issued to you;
- Prevent it from accepting any funds transfer to or from you; or
- Cause it to block payments or prohibit transactions where these use merchant codes customarily associated with gambling transactions.
You can also be arrested without a warrant.
If you are found guilty of unlawful remote gambling under the RGA, you will be liable for pay a fine up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term up to 6 months, or to both.
The sentencing framework for first-time offenders under section 8 of the RGA was considered in the case of Lau Jian Bang v PP.
In that case, the court stated that first-time offenders under section 8 of the RGA will generally be fined at least $1,000 instead of receiving an imprisonment term.
The exact amount of the fine is pegged to the amount of the offender’s bets. Factors which could increase the amount of the fine would include steps taken to conceal one’s illegal bets and lack of remorse. An offender who pleads guilty in a timely manner or cooperates with the authorities may face a smaller fine.
An imprisonment term will generally only be imposed in cases involving repeat offenders.
Prohibition against inviting persons under 21 to gamble online
Under section 13 of the RGA, it is an offence to invite, permit, or cause a person under 21 years of age to gamble online in Singapore.
This includes actions such as sending the person an advertisement about an online gambling service or highlighting information about online gambling to that person with a view of encouraging him or her to gamble online.
Anybody found guilty of inviting a person under 21 years of age to gamble remotely shall be liable for pay a fine of at least $20,000 and up to $300,000, or to imprisonment for a term up to 6 years, or to both. This is unless you can prove that you took all reasonable steps to determine the individual’s age and that you reasonably believed that the individual was at least 21 years of age.
Tips on Gambling Legally in Singapore
Gamble in a private place with trusted friends
In order to avoid being charged for illegal gambling, you must not gamble in a public place, or a common gaming house where habitual gaming takes place.
It is also best to gamble only with a trusted group of friends and refrain from adding others to this group. This is because inviting strangers to gamble may be construed as gambling in a place to which the public may have access, constituting the offence of gambling in a “public place”.
Avoid gambling with seasoned gamblers as they may attract unwanted attention from the authorities. Seasoned gamblers may be characterised as those who are willing to spend large sums of money when gambling, or those who have outstanding debts due to their gambling habits.
Place small bets
You should cap your bets at a small amount. This this will help authorities to understand that you are engaging in a social activity with friends, instead of operating a common gaming house.
Bet only with exempted betting operators
Avoid private bookies, and place bets only with exempt betting operators. You should also not attempt to flout the minimum age requirement for betting with exempt operators.
Steps to Take If You Have Been Charged with a Gambling Offence
If you have been charged with a gambling offence, you may want to consider hiring a criminal lawyer to represent you in court.
The lawyer may assist you in seeking acquittal in the event that you did not in fact commit the offence in question.
For example, say that you have been found playing mahjong in public. Under the law, you will be presumed to be gaming in public for money or money’s worth, which is an offence.
However if there was actually no money involved in your mahjong session, a lawyer can highlight this to try and help acquit you of the offence.
Alternatively, the lawyer may assist you by establishing a defence or, if you are convicted of the offence, by seeking a lesser penalty for it.
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