Singapore Goes for High StakesPublished June 27, 2008 by OCR Editor
Currently, the Philippines is the only country off the South China Sea that permits the practice of casino and online gambling. But that may be about to change.
A Potential Cash
With gambling officially banned by the Asian giants of China and Japan, gamers who want a flutter on the horses or blackjack tables have been forced to look further afield. Eyeing the enormous potential tax income, the government of Singapore is considering legalizing casino and online gambling operations.
In a country where you can be fined for chewing gum in the street, Singapore law can be extremely strict. Gamblers caught in the act can face jail sentences of up to six months, and fines of around 5,000 US dollars. Even more severe penalties await illegal gamblers in nearby countries such as Malaysia, where gambling is even more heavily penalized.
The Will to Wager
In spite of the risks, Singaporeans love to bet, and gambling abounds through illicit chains of bookmaker stalls, and online via a network of hundreds of Internet cafes. A recent survey has found that online gambling in Singapore has increased tenfold in the last two years.
A Losing Battle
The Singapore police do their utmost to shut down illegal gambling dens and Internet cafes where gambling persists, but new operations spring up overnight. As in the United States, denying payment through local credit cards is also a losing battle, as third-party money handlers appear instantly to fill the gap.
Bite the Bullet
The Singapore government is set to bite the bullet and legalize casino and online gambling operations, paving the way to increased levels of tourism as well as a welcome flood of tax revenues. Working committees are in progress to determine the pros and cons, but Singapore is likely to follow the global deregulation trend and permit its gamblers to spin the wheel.