Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Sports Betting in Singapore

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Sports Betting in Singapore

Article excerpt

From football to Formula 1, betting on sporting events is increasingly commonplace. This article provides an insight into the history, legislative framework and pertinent issues in the dynamic area of sports betting.

Sports betting involves making predictions of the outcomes of sporting events through wagering. Sporting events on which bets are commonly offered include football, motor racing, horse-racing, basketball, baseball, golf, rugby and boxing. Outcomes arising from these events on which bets may be offered may range from the final score and winner of the match or championship, to details such as first player to score and number of fouls committed during the game.

The legality of sports betting, and the extent of permitted sports betting activity, varies from country to country. Even in countries which have legalised sports betting, there nonetheless exists a huge parallel underground betting environment. In addition, the online sports bookmakers and betting exchanges who are licensed in offshore jurisdictions also provide additional avenues for sports betting in competition with state operators.

Proponents of legalised sports betting argue that having a flutter on a sporting activity is not only relatively harmless, but may also increase interest and fan support in the sport. In addition, the revenues from legalised sports betting may even be channelled back into funding the development of the sport. On the other hand, opponents of sports betting are concerned that it may compromise the integrity of participants in the sport (ie players, coaches and officiators), even if match fixing is equally prevalent (if not more) in countries which have refused to legalise sports betting.

History and evolution

Gambling has existed in Singapore since the early colonial days. For instance, in the 1820s, the colonial police was said to have been funded using gambling revenue. However, illegal gambling was rife and dominated the gambling industry.

The Betting Act (Cap 21) was enacted in 1960 to suppress illegal common betting-houses, betting in public places and bookmaking, while the Common Gaming Houses Act (Cap 49) was passed in 1961 to suppress illegal common gaming houses, public gaming and public lotteries. In 1968, the post-independence Government established the state operator Singapore Pools (1) to counter illegal betting and to channel proceeds of sales to benefit the community.

Up to 1999, legalised gambling in Singapore was limited to the Singapore Sweep lottery, 4D and Toto games operated by Singapore Pools, horse-racing conducted by the Singapore Turf Club, and certain types of gaming in private clubs (eg jackpot machines). All other forms of gambling were illegal.

In 1999, to support and maintain the viability of Singapore's first local professional football league - the S-League - following Singa - pore's withdrawal from the Malaysia Cup tournament, Singapore Pools introduced legalised football betting on S-League games. Proceeds from betting on S-League matches are channelled back into the league to fund the development of its football clubs.

In 2002, sports betting was extended beyond local S-League games. In recognition of the popularity of betting on foreign football matches, Singapore Pools began to offer legalised betting on matches played in the World Cup 2002. Sports betting was subsequently further extended to allow for legalised betting on the English Premier League, other international matches, and to other European and Asian football leagues as well.

The opening up of sports bets was mirrored by other developments in gambling. In April 2005, in a Ministerial Statement made in Par - liament, the Singapore Government announced its decision to lift its ban on casinos in the city state, and to allow for two casinos to be established as part of the "Integrated Resorts" in Singapore. These Integrated Resorts, the first of which is due for completion in early 2010, will be the first ever legalised casinos in Singapore, and will be significant milestones in the gambling landscape in Singapore. …

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