Parliament was fired up yesterday (Nov 8) with Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh scolding the ruling party government for trying to make money from the recent legalisation of online gambling:

“While I am sure the Minister will refute this accusation vigorously, the fact remains that a large part of legalised gambling revenue goes into the state’s coffers. Is providing for exempt operators a way to redirect gambling spending away from illegal overseas operators to local operators, which are owned by the Tote Board?

Such increased accessibility could further be the “gateway” to more serious gambling addictions. For instance, pathological gamblers might be tempted to fall back into their old habits by placing bets on smartphones without their friends or family noticing, unlike when they go to casinos or the Singapore Turf Club.”

The Opposition MP then pointed out that the Singapore government has no solution to problem gambling and they might as well make money from it:

“Despite the Government’s admission that online gambling would pose a difficult challenge, there is a glaring lack of clarity on how the authorities were preparing to tackle the issue. One cannot help but to get the feeling that it is business as usual, and that online gambling is just another game to gamble on, or just another sport for the public to take a bet on. I am concerned that it is much more ominous than that.”

Last month, the Singapore government exempted two of its state-owned gambling house, Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club, from the online gambling act and allowed them to set up gambling websites.

The ruling party government approved the act with their overwhelming majority presence but the move drew backlash from the public. The annual revenue from the new gambling taxes is estimated to be around S$100 milllion a year.

Read Senior Minister of State Desmond Lee’s angry response here