Small country, large stakes: S'poreans are world's biggest gamblers

Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays are Mr Chan Kim Ban's favourite days of the week.

At 7pm on those days, the retiree turns on his iPad and opens the SG Live4D application to check the latest 4D results.

Mr Chan, 82, is an avid punter who has been betting with Singapore Pools since its inception in 1968.

He told The New Paper: "I started gambling when I was 30. Back then, there was no Singapore Pools so I placed my bets with private operators."

He estimates that he has spent over $100,000 in bets with Singapore Pools and spends close to $5,000 a year on 4D and the occasional Toto.

While the national average spent by local gamblers last year is much lower at US$1,019 (S$1,361), it was enough for La Fleur's Magazine, which reports on the US$262 billion global lottery industry, to name Singaporeans as the biggest lottery spenders.

That figure is close to 1.5 times that of the second-ranked Massachusetts State Lottery, where the average spent last year was US$730.

One reason given for the high lottery sales is the large number of betting outlets here, which makes it convenient for local gamblers to place their bets.


A 2014 survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed that 4D is the most popular gambling activity among Singaporeans.

Of the 3,000 Singapore residents surveyed, 35 per cent bet on 4D while over a quarter bought Toto, making it the second most popular game here.

In total, local punters spent close to $8 billion a year on games run by Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club.

Although Mr Chan has lost more money than he has won, he told TNP that he will not be giving up gambling any time soon.

He said: "I will continue to buy 4D until I die or lose my memory."


National Council on Problem Gambling


Thye Hua Kwan Problem Gambling Recovery Centre 6576-0840

One Hope Centre 6547-1011

We Care Community Services 6471-5346

This article was first published on May 26, 2015. Get The New Paper for more stories.