Tech-savvy folks can get around the tough measures, say experts

Tech-savvy folks can get around the tough measures, say experts

One aim of the Remote Gambling Bill is that by blocking gambling websites, cutting payment gateways and banning pop-up adverts, no one will stumble on them by chance.

But will online options really dry up?

Some critics tell Insight the measures are not foolproof, given today's tech-savvy consumers who know how to circumvent online restrictions.

For instance, Internet service providers (ISPs) are required to block websites only when directed by the Media Development Authority.

The blocking mechanism is not prescribed. But if ISPs are required to block only the original Web address - like how they are made to block pornography websites - then it is easy to circumvent prohibited sites.

Virtual private network (VPN) services - sold initially to corporations to secure their Internet links - can mask any Web traffic.

VPN services are easily available and sold to individuals for as little as $10 a month.

So when punters use VPN services, ISPs will not be able to detect access to a gambling website, much less block the access.

And most gambling websites have "proxy" Web addresses - alternative addresses that can be entered into Web browsers to take users to the blocked sites.

So, killing the payment gateway seems the only measure that goes far enough to stop most problem gamblers.

Sure, lawmakers here could have made things tougher, such as by criminalising all parties, including banks, that assist in making online gambling payments - as in the US.

Here, financial institutions are required to block payment to certain websites only if directed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

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