Lottery, Sports Betting Spend on the Rise in Singapore

Gamblers in Singapore are back in action, setting new records for their favorite forms of entertainment. With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, gamblers are spending more, leading to strong results for lottery and sports betting products.

Singapore Pools
Singapore Pools
Bettors wait in line at a Singapore Pools betting shop. Lottery and sports betting spending in the country is on the rise. (Image: Pinterest)

In the Tote Board’s last financial year, which concluded this past March, SGD9.2 billion (US$6.8 billion) was wagered on lotteries and sports. This is the highest amount the statutory body has reported in the past four years, and is a 43% improvement over the previous year’s results.

Having to pay to enter casinos has also proven beneficial to Singapore’s economy. Entry collections added SGD125 million (US$92 million) to the total, another record over the past four years.

Singapore Becomes Gaming Oasis

During the COVID-19 fiasco, all Singapore Pools outlets, the Singapore Turf Club, and two casinos were closed. Since pandemic health restrictions began disappearing, different establishments resumed operations at different times. Singapore Pools retail outlets reopened on June 22, 2020, but others remained closed longer.

Under the Tote Board’s guidance, Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club, including horse racing operators, operate lotteries and sports betting. There are no breakdowns of bets or payouts on individual games available in the Tote Board’s Annual Report.

Still, the results are highly promising. Even before COVID-19, Singapore’s gaming industry wasn’t as strong as it is now. In the fiscal year 2019, gamblers spent SGD8.1 billion (US$6 billion) on lotteries and sports bets, an amount 14% lower than the latest levels.

In the last financial year, bettors spent SGD818 million (US$602.7 million) on horse racing bets, 65% more than the SGD496 million (US$365.45 million) a year earlier. That bucks a trend that lasted for a decade, as younger generations show greater disinterest in horse races.

The casino entry revenue came in at just the right time. In 2019, the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) increased the fee by 50% as it was negotiating new deals with Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore. After an initial drop in visitation, the numbers have rebounded.

With COVID-19 mostly in the rearview mirror and the duopoly back in action, that increase is paying off. The CRA is no longer carrying the torch for industry regulations, though, as the Gambling Regulatory Authority officially took over this past August.

World Cup to Boost Bets

The World Cup will undoubtedly give Singapore’s sports betting industry a boost. But it’s also leading to an increase in illegal wagers. Across the globe, countries are uncovering illegal betting operations, and Singapore is no exception.

This week, police arrested 20 people across the country for their involvement in illegal sports betting and gambling. Nineteen men and one woman now face charges of illegal gambling, involvement in organized crime, and more.

During the raids, which took place in several locations across Singapore, authorities shut down 70 bank accounts and recovered SGD118,000 (US$86,942) in cash.

Three of the individuals arrested have already appeared in court. They face up to 10 years in prison and fines of as much as SGD700,000 (US$515,760).

Anyone who places a wager with an unlicensed or illegal operator can be locked up as well. They could receive sentences of up to six months and fines of up to SGD10,000 (US$7,368).

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