Visitors to online gambling sites would have found themselves shut out yesterday after the authorities blocked access to several hundred of them, as laws to curb remote gambling kicked in.
The list of websites to be blocked will be regularly reviewed, but details will not be made public, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesperson told TODAY.
“The MHA and the Media Development Authority are working with Internet service providers (ISPs) to ensure that the blocking of websites is implemented smoothly,” the spokesperson said.
As the law came into force yesterday, some regular visitors to remote gambling websites found that they were unable to withdraw money that they had deposited for games on those sites.
A check by TODAY showed that as of 10pm yesterday, some popular betting sites such as ibcbet.com and sbobet.com had been blocked. Some other popular sites were still accessible.
The Remote Gambling Act, which was passed in Parliament on Oct 7 last year, outlaws remote gambling services. “It is also an offence under the Act to publish remote gambling service advertisements and promote remote gambling in Singapore. Offending websites will be served notices to remove these materials,” said the MHA spokesperson.
Under the new legislation, it is an offence to gamble in Singapore using remote communication such as via websites or to use a remote gambling service such as mobile apps that are not provided by an exempt operator. Those who break the law may be fined up to S$5,000, or jailed for up to six months or both.
The Association of Banks in Singapore confirmed that banks here had been informed that the Act would come into force yesterday and said it had “ensured compliance with its provisions” after it received orders from the Monetary Association of Singapore (MAS) to do so.
The MAS yesterday ordered all licensed banks, card issuers, holders of stored value facilities and operators of any payment system designated under the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act to block payment orders involving mobile or Internet gambling application or websites.
Financial institutions are not to accept credit or proceeds of credit, any cheques, bank drafts or similar instruments, or make or accept electronic fund transfers or any fund transmissions to or from remote gambling services.
They are also to block payment and prohibit transactions to merchant category codes 7995 MasterCard, 7995 Visa, 7995 UnionPay, 7995 JCB and 7995 Diners.
Meanwhile, StarHub, an ISP here, yesterday told TODAY that it was putting measures in place, in compliance with the new law. However, it was not able to share information on the blocked websites due to confidentiality obligations, said a spokesperson.