Workers’ Party does morally upright thing by calling on govt to disallow online betting

They are opposed to the granting of exemptions to any organisation to operate online betting sites.

Belmont Lay | September 27, 2016 @ 05:16 pm

The Workers’ Party has come out to state its opposition to the launch of legal online betting services in Singapore.

In a statement on their position that has been posted on their site, they are calling on the government to not grant exemptions from the Remote Gambling Act and to reject applications by organisations to operate remote and online betting services.

This is following news that such services could be made available locally by Singapore operators as early as the second half of October this year.

An online petition to stop the legalisation of online gambling in Singapore has received more than 11,000 signatures since it was started on Sept. 15 — a sign that there is push back from some segments in society.

It was reported that Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club (STC) are anticipating receiving the approval from the authorities to launch their online betting services very soon.

This is despite the passing of the Remote Gambling Act in February last year, which criminalises a host of remote gambling activities that target overseas operators, including phone betting.

And there are no signs that there are any roadblocks to slow or halt local operations, as Singapore Pools, at least, has set up their betting site since June this year, which was meant to be launched in time for the Euro 2016 football competition.

This is WP’s full statement:

The Workers’ Party notes with concern the applications from Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club (STC) to launch online betting services.

There are no lack of legal gambling venues in Singapore, including the two casinos and hundreds of outlets accepting bets for Singapore Pools and STC.

When the government decided to clamp down on remote gambling in 2014, it cited concerns about addictive behaviour and easy access to these games. Should the Government approve their applications, Singapore Pools and STC will have 24/7 virtual betting outlets available in almost every home and mobile device.

This convenience may encourage Singaporeans to take up the habit and possibly become a gateway to more serious gambling. The social costs of gambling on families are well documented, and the number of problem gambling cases in Singapore has been on the rise.

It makes little sense for the government to close one door on remote gambling in order to “protect young persons and other vulnerable persons”, while opening another door that exposes them to the ills of gambling in their homes.

During the second reading of the Remote Gambling Bill in 2014, the Government rejected the Workers’ Party call to send the Remote Gambling Bill – specifically the clauses that dealt with exemptions – to a Select Committee of Parliament for further scrutiny and oversight. Nonetheless, the Government committed itself to step up public education and awareness efforts with a specific focus on online gambling. However, as of today, it remains unclear what are the Government’s specific plans and strategies to address the negative effects of online gambling, especially on young and vulnerable persons.

The WP’s 2015 Manifesto contained five proposals to fight problem gambling, including the complete prohibition of remote and online gambling with no exemptions allowed. Exempting Singapore Pools and STC will undermine the government’s motivations for banning remote gambling in the first place.

We oppose the granting of exemptions to any organisation to operate remote and online betting services and we call on the government to reject these applications.

Read the speeches by WP MPs Png Eng Huat, Pritam Singh, and Yee Jenn Jong during the Parliamentary debate on Remote Gambling in 2014.

Pritam Singh
Assistant Secretary-General
The Workers’ Party
27 September 2016

 

Related articles:

S’pore could allow legal online betting with S’pore Pools as early as October 2016

Petition to stop legalisation of online gambling in S’pore tops 10,000 signatures

 

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Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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