Photo of Tan Chuan Jin from CNA

When questioned if the government is able to provide statistics to reflect the effectiveness of the Remote Gambling Act passed in 2015, Minister of Social and Family Development Tan Chuan Jin said that he doesn’t know the number.

Speaking at the Parliament session yesterday (Oct 10), former army general Minister Tan Chuan Jin then attempted to smoke his way out claiming that he can still track the “trends and patterns” without actual numbers:

“While the government tries to track gambling rates in Singapore through surveys, it is not able to ascertain the exact number of people who place bets online. While it is very difficult to track specific numbers online, trends and patterns can be discerned once authorities track the numbers more definitively.

Having a tightly managed, controlled space with safeguards put in place will perhaps allow those who continue to gamble online to have a space where at least some level of management can take place.”

Without consultation with the public and Parliament, the single-party government has allowed its two state-owned gambling houses, Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club, to commence operations of online gambling.

Supporting Minister Tan Chuan Jin, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee argued against oppositions saying:

“A complete ban will drive demand underground and create larger incentives for criminal syndicates to target Singaporeans. A complete ban does not mean that illegal online gambling will stop. Although we discourage drinking and smoking, we do not have a complete ban. Instead, we manage the potential harm through regulations and public education.

Despite a ban on remote gambling, determined gamblers still found ways to place bets online. Hence, allowing some form of legal online betting, but in a tightly controlled manner, is a realistic and clear-minded approach.”

The legalisation of online gambling will boost profits of Temasek Holdings who own the country’s two state-owned gambling houses, Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club. The CEO of Temasek Holdings is Ho Ching, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.