Singapore is a small city-state with only 5.5 million residents. It is also regarded as having some of the strictest gambling laws in the world. In this regard, it’s often grouped with countries like Qatar, UAE, North Korea, and Japan.
Most forms of gambling are illegal, including online gambling. However, it’s still the country with two of Asia’s most famous land-based casinos. The government holds a monopoly in several legal gambling niches, and there are no licensed private gambling sites.
The most available and popular legal gambling options are the Singapore Big Sweep, TOTO, 4D, and the two land-based casinos.
This hasn’t stopped many offshore casinos and bookmakers from offering their services to Singaporeans, but people from the country can still be fined and jailed for gambling.
There’s a fine line between legal and illegal gambling, so it’s crucial to take a deeper look at the country’s gambling laws.
Online Gambling Legality in Singapore
Despite several legislative changes in the last decade, online gambling remains illegal in Singapore.
As of 1 August 2022, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) is the leading regulatory agency responsible for dealing with all forms of gambling. It works under the auspices of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Three main laws regulate online gambling:
- Remote Gambling Act (RGA) of 2014 — Deals with remote gambling and includes a set of blocking measures like payment and website blocking.
- Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Act (GRE Act) of 2022 — Established the Gambling Regulatory Authority.
- Gambling Control Act (GC Act) of 2022 — Consolidated former gambling regulations and updated several gambling-related laws.
All forms of offline and online gambling are banned under these laws, except for licensed and exempted forms. Licensed forms of gambling include those occurring within the two land-based casinos or handled by the state (the lotteries), while physical social gambling is the exempted form.
Despite that, offshore online casinos and sportsbooks still offer their services to Singaporeans. However, you need to be aware that using them can lead to prosecution by the state. People convicted of participating in illegal gambling can receive a sentence of up to six months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
Underage players are only fined up to $1,500, while gambling operators can be fined $500,000 and imprisoned for up to 7 years. If the latter are repeat offenders, the punishment rises to $700,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
If you decide to use the services of foreign online gambling sites, you should do so at your own risk. Singapore is known to have prosecuted people for placing bets on offshore sportsbook sites, but many still use online casinos regardless.
Licensed Gambling Activities
The two licensed gambling activities in Singapore are:
- Gambling in licensed land-based casinos
- Placing bets in licensed bookmakers
Singapore has two legal real-world casinos — Resorts World Sentosa Integrated Resorts and Marina Bay Sands. The former is a premium resort with several venues and hotels, including a casino, all located on the resort island of Sentosa. The latter is a luxury hotel with a casino area located in Marina Bay, next to the famous Gardens by the Bay.
The country also has a few licensed bookmakers, most notably the Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club. The former primarily handles the nation’s lotteries like TOTO, while the latter is the sole racing operator in Singapore.
Exempted Gambling Activities
The sole exempted activity from the current gambling regulations is physical social gambling. In other words, this is social gambling conducted in person.
However, the law is unambiguous on what constitutes physical social gambling. First, the activity can only happen in person within an individual’s home, and it’s not permitted in a public place.
As for the social part, it’s only considered so if the participants are members of the same family or know each other closely. In other words, only friends and family can play together.
More importantly, for the activity to be social, it must be non-commercial, and winners cannot receive compensation. This means that the organizers cannot charge fees or collect rakes from participants, and winners cannot obtain real money or any other prize.
Minimum Gambling Age
Despite the diversity of legal gambling forms being limited in Singapore, the country still has specific rules on how old a person must be to gamble.
The general minimum gambling age in the country is 21 years. You must be at least 21 years old to use the country’s two land-based casino services.
However, Singapore Pools has a different rule supported by the government — you can be 18 years old to use its services like the lottery and sports betting.
It’s worth mentioning that there is no minimum age rule for physical social gambling.
Online gambling in Singapore is illegal. The laws are pretty modern, so they explicitly cover and ban remote gambling, which includes wagering over the phone or computer. They don’t talk about offshore gambling sites, which is why many online casinos and other gambling sites offer their services to Singaporeans. However, using these services can still be a punishable offense, and Singapore has been known to prosecute people for using online gambling sites, primarily bookies.
No, it’s perfectly legal to gamble at home with family or friends in Singapore, as long as it’s physical social gambling. This form is exempt from the latest bans on gambling. However, it must be non-commercial, meaning no one can collect fees or rakes from participants, and the only allowed benefit is the feeling of accomplishment one gets from winning. This means you can’t win real money or some other prize.
Yes, it is. Gambling through an unlicensed service is considered a punishable offense in Singapore and carries a fine of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to six months. Underage gamblers are only fined up to $1,500.
Online gambling is not legal, so there are no taxes on it. Moreover, players don’t have to pay taxes on gambling conducted in licensed casinos in the country. The tax responsibility falls on the land-based casinos themselves.
The minimum gambling age in Singapore is 21 years. Singapore Pools is exempt from this rule and requires gamblers to be at least 18 years old. It’s worth noting that underage individuals can be fined up to $1,500 for gambling. Lastly, it’s worth noting that physical social gambling has no minimum age requirement.