Mr Seah Kian Peng asked the Minister for Social and Family Development given the significant increase in the amount of bets placed on lotteries and sports betting in the financial year ending March 2022 (a) whether, and if so, what concerns does the Ministry have; and (b) whether the Ministry assesses there to be a need for additional measures to be introduced, such as to curb gambling addiction or to highlight responsible gambling.
1. The increase in Singapore Pools lotteries and sports betting turnover between Financial Year 20/21 and Financial Year 21/22 can be attributed to a few factors. Financial Year 20/21 saw lower turnover due to COVID-19 safe management measures, and there was likely to be pent-up demand in Financial Year 21/22 after COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed. Football tournaments also resumed globally in 2021, which led to increased sports betting.
2. MSF focuses on tackling problem gambling, as the negative impact goes beyond the individual gamblers, and also affects their families and loved ones. MSF, together with the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), regularly review and strengthen our social safeguards, and mandate gambling operators to implement responsible gambling measures.
3. For example, the Gambling Control Act enacted in March 2022 extended the exclusion regime administered by the National Council on Problem Gambling beyond the casinos, to gaming machine rooms and Singapore Pools’ online gambling platform. Should an individual bet online excessively with Singapore Pools, family members can apply for a Family Exclusion Order to suspend the individual’s online betting account.
4. 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.
5. From November 2022, private clubs operating gaming machine rooms are required to educate patrons about responsible gambling, problem gambling and help services, and assist patrons who display signs of problem gambling.
6. MSF will continue to work closely with GRA and MHA to monitor the situation, and review the need to introduce further measures to minimise the risks of problem gambling.
7. Individuals should exercise personal responsibility and avoid betting beyond their means. Those who need help with their gambling behaviour can call the NCPG Helpline or Webchat. We also encourage family and friends to look out for their loved ones, and advise them not to bet excessively.