Skip the queue for Toto and 4-D bets?

Skip the queue for Toto and 4-D bets?
PHOTO: The New Paper

Punters could soon save themselves the hassle of queueing to place Toto and 4-D bets over the Singapore Pools counter.

The lottery operator is looking into using self-service kiosks.

Separately, The Straits Times understands that Singapore Pools is also looking to allow punters to place not only sports but also lottery bets through a new betting website that is expected to be up and running next April.

It told The Straits Times that it has been thinking about offering self-service at its outlets "for some time now".

"This is primarily due to the shortage of manpower in Singapore for the past several years," said a spokesman. "However, this is something we have to study in more detail to see if our customers would be receptive given that they are used to counter service for many years."

The Straits Times understands that the lottery operator has designers working on a self-service outlet which does not offer over-the-counter service, and eliminates the need for physical betting slips.

For decades, people have had to head to the lottery operator's 300 retail outlets islandwide to take part in the Toto and 4-D lottery draws.

Those who have signed up as members of Singapore Pools' phone betting system can also call the hotline to place bets.

Housewife Chua Siew Mui, 67, who has been placing Toto and 4-D bets for more than a decade, said in Mandarin: "I've just started using a smartphone and so may have some difficulty getting used to buying bets through the phone.

"But if it means I don't have to queue, I guess no harm learning."

The United States, Australia and China already have self-service lottery kiosks.

Even as Singapore Pools considers self-service betting, it is waiting to see if it gets the go-ahead from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to be exempted from laws that curb online betting so that it can offer online betting services.

The Straits Times reported that Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club applied last month to be exempted under the Remote Gambling Act, ahead of the deadline that expires today.

The MHA told The Straits Times that the applications will take nine to 12 months to evaluate, based on "strict" criteria.

According to documents obtained by The Straits Times, Singapore Pools also wants to allow people to place sports and lottery bets through their online accounts. Members will be able to top up their betting accounts at any time of the day, with all winnings to be transferred to designated bank accounts.

A steering committee, led by Singapore Pools chief executive Seah Chin Siong, is now working with British online gambling software provider OpenBet to get the revamped betting website ready by April. This is to ensure that the lottery operator can start taking online bets in time for the Euro 2016 football championships in June.

The Singapore Pools spokesman would say only that until the outcome of their application for exemption is known, "it is premature for us to comment on plans for remote betting".

This article was first published on August 1, 2015.
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