Gambling in Singapore



Even before the two casinos in Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa opened in 2010, Singaporeans had been gambling away billions of dollars each year.

Background
A report published in 2005 revealed that Singapore Pools, a state-linked lottery operator in Singapore, had a yearly turnover of S$4 billion, which worked out to S$11 million per day.1 Another report published the same year found that, excluding illegal betting or speculation in stocks or derivatives, at least S$7 billion was spent on gambling in Singapore in 2004.2 A survey conducted by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports between end 2004 and early 2005 indicated that 58 percent of Singaporeans aged 18 years and above had gambled over the past one year, with 2.1 percent showing signs of gambling addiction.3 A typical gambler wagered an average of S$244 every month. The lottery games offered by Singapore Pools were the most popular, with 4-D, Toto and Singapore Sweep taking the top three spots and over 30 percent of Singapore residents participating in these games.4

Gambling and common practices
Motorists and passers-by have been observed recording the four-digit registration numbers of vehicles involved in accidents in the hopes of winning the 4-D lottery. Some punters have even appeared at the scene of murders and at the funerals of murder victims to pray or to look for lucky numbers.5 There has been at least one complaint made to the press about television charity shows being akin to gambling because they offered donors the chance of winning prizes.6


Social gambling – including mahjong, card games, and other games played with friends and family involving money – came in fourth, with a 17-percent participation rate. Scratch It!, a scratch-and-win game launched in 2004, gained quick popularity with 12-percent participation rate.7 According to the 2005 report by MSF, table games and slot machines in local and overseas venues, sports betting, horse betting and online gambling were less popular gambling activities in Singapore. However, more money was spent on these activities. An average of S$387 and S$288 were spent every month on sports betting and table games (on cruises and in casinos) respectively, while only S$93, S$48, and S$27 were spent on 4-D, Toto, and Singapore Sweep respectively.8

On 18 April 2005, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the government’s approval of the development of two “integrated resorts”, which would combine casinos with other entertainment facilities, at Marina Bayfront and Sentosa.9 The first casino, located within the Resorts World Sentosa integrated resort, opened on 14 February 2010. The second casino, housed in the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, opened two months later on 27 April 2010.10 By 2013, the combined gross gaming revenue of the two casinos in Singapore had reached S$7.66 billion. In spite of this, Singapore Pools’ turnover for 4-D, Toto, Singapore Sweep and sports betting continued to grow, reaching S$6.34 billion in 2015.11

A survey conducted by Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2003 revealed that two-thirds of Singaporeans between the ages of 40 and 59 did not believe that they had sufficient savings for retirement, and that almost 40 percent were counting on winnings from Toto and 4-D bets for their retirement funds.12 A national study conducted in 2010 found that the elderly in Singapore were not any more prone to gambling addiction than other age groups, but nevertheless singled them out as vulnerable because they tended to have more free time and disposable income.13 In 2015, the Thye Hua Kwan Problem Gambling Recovery Centre and the National Addictions Management Service at the Institute of Mental Health reported a 60-percent increase in cases of problem gambling between 2012 and 2014, compared to the period between 2009 and 2011. The government attributed the increase to greater public awareness about problem gambling and the promotion of help-seeking behaviour.14



Author
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia




References
1. Even without a casino, Singaporeans love gambling to death. (2005, April 17). Agence France Presse. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
2. Long, S. (2005, July 2). Beast within gambling. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. (2005, April 13). Report of survey on participation in gambling activities among Singapore residents, 2005. Retrieved 2017, July 17 from Ministry of Social and Family Development website: https://www.ncpg.org.sg/en/pdf/publications-survey-gambling05.pdf
4. Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. (2005, April 13). Report of survey on participation in gambling activities among Singapore residents, 2005. Retrieved 2017, July 17 f.m Ministry of Social and Family Development website: https://www.ncpg.org.sg/en/pdf/publications-survey-gambling05.pdf
5. The Sunday Times 4-D and the sick. (2005, June 26). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Even without a casino, Singaporeans love gambling to death. (2005, April 17). .ence France Presse. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg|
6. Lian, W. J. J. (2005, July 2). Giving to charity is now like gambling. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Ministry of Communication Development, Youth and Sports. (2005, April 13). Report of survey on participation in gambling activities among Singapore residents, 2005. Retrieved 2017, July 17 from Ministry of Social and Family Development website: https://www.ncpg.org.sg/en/pdf/publications-survey-gambling05.pdf; Fong, T., & Goh, S. (2004, December 4). Scratch fever hits hopeful punters. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. (2005, April 13). Report of survey on participation in gambling activities among Singapore residents, 2005. Retrieved 2017, July 17 from Ministry of Social and Family Development website: https://www.ncpg.org.sg/en/pdf/publications-survey-gambling05.pdf
9. Government of Singapore. (2005, April 18). Statement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on integrated resort on Monday, 18 April 2005 at Parliament House. Retrieved from Ministry of Trade and Industry website: https://www.mti.gov.sg/MTIInsights/Documents/Ministerial%20Statement%20-%20PM%2018apr05.pdf
10. Sim, A. (2010, April 30). 36,000 visit Marina Bay IR in first 24hrs. The Business Times, p. 4; Ramchandani, N. (2010, February 16). Casino opens with a bang, queues raise whimpers. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tan, T. (2015, February 8). S’pore punters spend US$5.9 million on bettings in a year. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
12. Leong, C. T., & Almenoar, M. (2004, December 18). Can you afford to retire? The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Lim, L. K. (2012, November 6). Elderly not more prone to gambling: Study. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Problem gambling: 60% more cases seen in last 3 years. (2015, July 14), Channel NewsAsia; Siau, M. E. (2015, July 14). Close to 60% rise in problem gambling cases seen at designated help centres: Chuan-Jin. Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/



Further resources
Pereira, B. (1991, May 13). $2b gambled away by Singaporeans. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Singapore says ‘yes’ to two integrated resorts with casinos. (2005, April 18). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg



The information in this article is valid as at 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
People and communities>>Social problems>>Compulsive gambling
Recreation
Sports and Recreation
Gambling--Singapore
Law and government>>Regulatory role>>Gambling