Online gambling sites to be blocked in Singapore

Online gambling sites to be blocked in Singapore

SINGAPORE - A businessman is now going through a divorce because he paid too much attention to his "mistress" - online gambling.

Pulled into its addictive world over five years, he would bet on football, while on the go.

After work, he would sit in his computer room at home till bedtime placing bets, even through meal times. His wife would place his food in the room and leave.

His addiction has not only cost him his marriage, but also left him $250,000 in debt.

His case is just one of many which social workers have seen in recent years. They say it is a growing - and worrying - trend.

The Government is looking to arrest it. Second Minister of Home Affairs S. Iswaran said yesterday that his ministry will be blocking gambling websites and payments to such operators, and banning online gambling advertisements, possibly by early next year.

The restriction will also apply to other forms of remote gambling on mobile devices and telephones.

"Remote gambling is something that is growing, and it probably has a greater level of attraction with a more tech-savvy generation," Mr Iswaran told reporters yesterday.

Analysts estimate the remote-gambling market here to be worth US$300 million (S$376 million) annually - and growing.

Easy access, the addictive nature of such games and the possibility that such sites can be used for illegal activities are reasons he gave for such measures.

There is also the need to protect the young, many of whom already play games that simulate gambling which may desensitise them to the dangers of gambling, he said.

There are currently no laws specific to online gambling.

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