Singapore has started blocking hundreds of foreign gambling websites to curb unlicensed online betting, a day after a tough anti-gambling law came into effect.
The Remote Gambling Act passed through parliament in October took effect yesterday, giving the government broad powers to block access to overseas gambling portals as well as stopping electronic payments to their operators. The blocked sites included bet365, Ladbrokes and 888.com.
The objectives of regulating remote gambling are to maintain law and order and to minimise the potential harm of remote gambling, especially to the youth of the country, said the Home Ministry (MHA).
The Ministry stressed that any attempt to make payments to these betting firms will be blocked. The MHA said it will regularly review the sites' list,which has been sent to Internet service providers.
A Gambling Regulatory Unit will also monitor their websites and related payment transactions. The blocked sites contain prohibited material, a message posted on these sites said. Data would be sought from research firms to track the websites' visitor statistics, according to media reports.
Singapore authorities would also work with gambling regulators in other jurisdictions such as France, to share and learn from "best practices'', the MHA said.
Unlicensed online and phone gambling is an offence under the Remote Gambling Act which was passed last October. Gamblers face up to six months in jail or a SGD 5,000 fine and those guilty of luring people under 21 face stiffer penalties.
There is also a ban on online gambling advertisements. Internet service providers and financial institutions that fail to abide by a blocking order will face punishment.
Local media reports said several betting firms mobile websites, which are optimised for use on phones and tablets,were still accessible till yesterday.