More spending on lottery, sports betting in last FY after curbs eased
The increase in the amount spent on Singapore Pools lottery and sports betting between the last two financial years was due to factors such as relaxed Covid-19 measures and the resumption of sports tournaments globally.
A total of $9.2 billion was spent on bets on lotteries and sports in the Tote Board’s last financial year which ended in March 2022 – a spike of about 40 per cent from the year before. This is the largest sum placed on such bets in the past decade, The Straits Times reported in December 2022. Some $6.6 billion was wagered in the previous financial year that ended in March 2021.
The Tote Board, a statutory body, governs lottery operator Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club, which operates horse races. Lotteries comprise 4-D, Toto and Singapore Sweep, while sports betting refers to football and motor racing bets.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Eric Chua said: “(The) Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) focuses on tackling problem gambling as the negative impact goes beyond the individual gamblers, and also affects the gamblers’ families and loved ones.”
He added that MSF will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) to monitor the situation and review the need to introduce further measures to address problem gambling if needed.
Mr Chua was responding to a parliamentary question raised by Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) on whether there was a need for additional measures to be introduced to curb gambling addiction given the significant increase in the amounts spent on lotteries and sports betting. Mr Seah is also the chairman for the government parliamentary committee for social and family development.
Since November 2022, private clubs operating gaming machine rooms have been required to educate patrons about responsible gambling, problem gambling and help services. They also have to assist patrons who display signs of problem gambling, said Mr Chua.
Since the Gambling Control Act was enacted in March 2022, an exclusion regime which allows families to bar their loved ones from casinos, has been extended to gaming machine rooms and the Singapore Pools’ online gambling platform.
Mr Chua said: “Should an individual bet online excessively through Singapore Pools, family members can apply for a family exclusion order to suspend the individual’s online betting account.
“In addition, financially vulnerable individuals such as those on government social assistance and subsidy schemes, legal aid, and tenants and occupiers of the HDB Public Rental Scheme, are automatically excluded by law from betting online with Singapore Pools , as well as from the casinos and gaming machine rooms.”
Mr Chua said that those who need help with their gambling behaviour can call the National Council on Problem Gambling’s helpline (1800-6-668-668) or use its web chat.
He said: “Individuals need to exercise personal responsibility and avoid betting beyond their means…We also encourage family members and friends to look out for their loved ones, and advise them not to bet excessively.”
In a supplementary question, Mr Seah asked whether pent-up demand for lotteries and sports betting would normalise in 2023 and whether there is a need to introduce more measures to address this.
In response, Mr Chua said: “Over the past 10 years, gambling participation has remained quite stable... I’m happy to share that there hasn’t been a marked increase in probable pathological and problem gambling rates (in Singapore) and that has consistently remained at 1 per cent.
“For social issues such as this, we do want to err on the side of caution which is why we have implemented quite a number of exclusions.”
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