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Singapore has several laws that apply to gambling and poker, although the laws are older and were put into place well before the internet, so there has been quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding whether it is legal or not for Singaporeans to gamble online apart from the official online gambling sites run by the government.
In order to promote tourism, and increase tax revenues, Singapore passed the Casino Control Act in 2006 to allow for 2 casinos to operate in their country, and they were each given a 10-year license, which is set to expire in 2016. (1)
The 2 casinos in Singapore are the Marina Bay Sands and the Resorts World Sentosa. Singapore is a very small country and is really just a large city that functions as a country so everything in Singapore is within a short distance no matter where you are located at, so both these casinos are available to all. (2)
These casinos are targeted toward tourists, and Singapore residents are discouraged from playing at them, although they can gain admittance by paying a 100 Singapore Dollar daily fee, which works out to be about $75.
Foreigners don’t have to pay this fee though, and it’s a pretty hefty one just for the pleasure of walking into one of these casinos, and the rationale behind it may be to exclude lower income Singaporeans, and a fee like this would certainly do that.
There is a fair bit of concern in Singapore over problem gambling, particularly among the lower income segment. Singapore has the third highest per capita PPP GDP in the world, at over $82,000, so this is a very wealthy country, although they still do have a fair number of lower income residents. (3)
Aside from the casinos though, Singapore residents do also have a government run sports betting operation available to them, called Singapore Pools, and while gambling is pretty tightly restricted here, it’s also quite commonplace. (4)
Players can also bet on horse racing through the Singapore Turf Club, and both they and Singapore Pools have both retail outlets, and accept bets over the phone and online through mobile devices.
So in spite of some tight restrictions, there’s still a fair bit of gambling to be had in Singapore, and aside from the two officially sanctioned online betting operations, and the casinos, Singaporeans also partake in the wide assortment of online betting and online poker sites located outside the country.
This is set to change soon though, as the Singapore government has passed a new law outlawing all forms of remote gambling, addressing both the placing of bets by telephone and online, and include banning their residents from playing on these sites, aside from sites that are to be deemed as exempt, which have a number of conditions attached to the exemption.
This new law is set to come into effect in late 2015, and it applies to the government run online betting sites as well, and even they will have to adjust to the conditions, and this hasn’t been fully worked out yet. (5)
Playing Poker in Singapore
Poker is fairly popular in Singapore, and they do have one live poker room, which is hosted at one of their casinos, the Resorts World Sentosa. They have seven live poker tables, all running Texas Hold’em, with stakes ranging from $5/$10 to $100/$200. The other casino does have poker but it is casino style poker only, meaning playing against the house rather than against other players.
It’s not perfectly clear whether or not home poker games are legal in Singapore, but there is said to be quite a few that run in this country, and the thinking is that since it is only illegal to run a public gaming house, and a home game probably would not be considered to be such, then it’s probably OK.
There was a famous case back in 1999 where a prominent businessman was arrested for running a high stakes private Pai Gow game, and ended up being acquitted of the charge in the end by the courts. So this case does serve as a precedent and if someone else got arrested for running a home game in the future, which may not even be likely now, then the courts would likely look to this past ruling and again acquit.
If you are from Singapore and want to play live poker at the casino, you can, but the entrance fee tends to turn the locals off pretty much, and therefore they mostly play at home games or online, at least at the present time while you can still play online without running afoul of the law.
Quite a few Singapore residents travel to Macau to play poker, where it is widely available at the casinos there, and this does promote the game in Singapore as well, as they tend to want to play more poker when they get back from their gambling vacations.
Singapore doesn’t have a lot of poker ambassadors, although one of its favorite sons, Willie Tann, did win a World Series of Poker bracelet and has almost $2 million in winnings on the worldwide live poker tournament scene. (7)
Online Poker in Singapore?
Some have claimed that is currently against the law to play online poker now, but if that were the case, the government would have had no need to pass this new law which is set to outlaw online poker in addition to other forms of gambling unless they take place on an exempt site.
It’s not clear yet whether Singapore will have any exempt sites, they probably will though, but it is unlikely that any of them will offer poker. So online poker players will still have to turn to foreign websites to get their fix, as they do presently. But if there were ANY options it would be these 2 poker rooms:
- Natural8– Most popular Asian skin on the Good Game Network; allows both casino and sports betting action as well for most major countries in Asia and Europe.
- GGPoker– 35% instant rakeback for new players is given out at GGPoker, one of the Good Game Network’sflagship poker sites.
If the Singapore government thinks that this new law will see online poker in Singapore grind to a halt, they need only look at other countries who have tried this. There’s really only one country that has managed to stamp out online gambling, and that’s North Korea, and the only reason they have been able to do this is that people don’t have online access here in the first place.
So elsewhere, as in Singapore, if the internet exists, people who want to play online poker and partake in other forms of online gambling will simply find a way around anything that governments are willing to throw at them, including the banning of websites and domestic financial transactions to and from offshore gambling sites.
So the law may be soon set to change and while laws like this do cut down on the amount of online poker played in a country, there still is likely to be quite a bit of it still going on in Singapore.
1. Singapore Online Gambling Guide
4. Online Gambling Sites in Singapore
5. Singapore Remote Gambling Laws Take Effect Next Year
7. Willie Tann
About the Author
Sadonna PriceAuthorSadonna is a mom of two and an avid poker player who also enjoys online casino games. She has been part of the online gambling industry for over a decade, working as a news and blog writer. Sadonna still plays Texas hold’em in her free time while her daily job revolves around providing insights into the online gambling world using her creativity and writing skills.
Is playing poker at home illegal in Singapore? ›
Under the new Gambling Control Act, it will be legal for family and friends to take part in physical social gambling, such as playing mahjong or poker in Singapore homes, with no age limit imposed. However, the gambling has to take place in an individual's home and cannot be conducted in the course of any business.Can you play poker in public in Singapore? ›
On the other hand, it is illegal to gamble in any public place in Singapore. Thus, even if members of the same family gather to gamble at a funeral held in a void deck, such an activity would technically be illegal as a void deck is a public place.Where can I play poker in Singapore? ›
- Singapore - Attractions.
- Resorts World Sentosa Casino.
Background: The Gambling Act 2005
The Act permits equal chance gaming (including poker) on licensed premises without the need to apply for a licence but subject to certain statutory restrictions. The Act applies to premises which have a bar and where there is no requirement that alcohol is only served with food.
Some states explicitly allow home poker games, some states explicitly prohibit them, and some states don't have a stated policy towards them (which means they are illegal by default). About half of all states allow "social games".Can foreigners buy Toto in Singapore? ›
Yes, if you have a valid Foreign Identification Number (FIN) and meet all prerequisites. If you are a foreign passport holder, you will only be able to select and bet on Horse Racing. You will need to provide your Singapore address and Singapore phone number during account registration.Why is there no poker in Singapore? ›
Online Poker Legislation in Singapore
In February 2015, the Remote Gambling Act of 2014 was enacted banning all online gambling, including online poker sites. The fine for playing online was stipulated at SG$5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months.
Progressive Texas Hold'em Poker. Progressive 3 Card Poker. Roulette (including Roulette Double Zero) RWS Baccarat.How many casinos are there in Singapore? ›
How many casinos are there in Singapore? Singapore has 2 Casinos. It is fourth in the world after The United States of America, Macau, and Canada.Can I play poker in public? ›
So while most states consider poker gambling, a few do not, and in those states, if it's not gambling, it is legal. Social gambling: even if it is gambling, if it falls under the criteria to be considered “social gambling,” it would be legal.
Can you run a poker game legally? ›
Probably not. Gambling laws differ from state to state. California, where Alex Rodriguez allegedly played, prohibits eleven specific games under Penal Code 330, as well as any “banking” or “percentage” game. Poker is not on the list, nor does it qualify as a banking game (in which players bet against the house).Can I host a poker tournament? ›
Hosting a home poker tournament can be a lot of fun, and, in most jurisdictions, is legal so long as the host does not charge extra for hosting the tournament. Organization and proper set up are the keys to success - don't forget to have a poker timer for all players to see the tournament progress!Can you gamble in Singapore at home? ›
In general, if you're playing games of chance at home with friends and family, it will not be considered as illegal gambling.Can you gamble at home? ›
Some people decide to cut out the middle man and buy a slot machine of their own to enjoy while at home. Unfortunately, unless the machine is an antique that is older than 25 years, this is illegal in the state of California.Can Singaporeans gamble overseas? ›
The Court of Appeal pointed out that it would be against public policy for Singaporeans to gamble abroad and return to Singapore to escape from their debts incurred abroad.Can I play poker in my house? ›
In many jurisdictions, an unlicensed poker game may still be legal if the game is played in a residence, the host does not profit, and/or the buy-in fees do not exceed a certain threshold. Even if the game itself is illegal, in some jurisdictions it is not illegal to just play such a game.Is social gambling legal in Singapore? ›
The GCA now recognizes social gambling as a legal activity requiring no prior authorization. Social gambling refers to spontaneous gambling activities that are conducted by individuals at their homes with people who are friends or family.Is it illegal to take a rake in poker? ›
Legality. In most legal jurisdictions, taking a rake from a poker table is explicitly illegal if the party taking the rake does not have the proper gaming licences and/or permits. The laws of many jurisdictions do not prohibit the playing of poker for money at a private dwelling, provided that no one takes a rake.Do I need to pay tax if I win TOTO? ›
Everyone - irrespective of their regular income, the amount of winnings, age or physical condition - has to pay a tax of 30.9%. The TDS of 30.9% is a flat tax on the winning amount; it will not be added to your income and you will not be able to benefit from your income tax rate slab.Can Tourist play Singapore lottery? ›
Yes, you can purchase lottery tickets while you are holidaying overseas! You don't need to be a resident, or a citizen, however, if you win, you must claim the prize in the country where the ticket was purchased.
Is Singapore TOTO tax free? ›
You'll be glad to know that in Singapore, lottery winnings are tax-exempt, so you'll get to keep every dollar of your prize money. Read Also: What Happens If You Find A Winning Toto Ticket?Is casino legal in Singapore? ›
Gambling is regulated tightly through strict laws to maintain law and order as well as to minimise potential harm to the society. Gambling activities are prohibited unless they are exempted or licensed. MHA adopts a holistic approach to tackling law and order concerns associated with gambling activities.How do I join a poker tournament? ›
Playing Your First Live Poker Tournament- Beginner's GuideIs it legal to gamble at home Singapore? ›
Under the Gambling Control Act, it is legal for family and friends to take part in physical social gambling. While there is no age limit, the gambling has to take place in an individual's home and cannot be conducted in the course of any business.Are poker games at home illegal? ›
In many jurisdictions, an unlicensed poker game may still be legal if the game is played in a residence, the host does not profit, and/or the buy-in fees do not exceed a certain threshold. Even if the game itself is illegal, in some jurisdictions it is not illegal to just play such a game.Is gambling at home illegal in Singapore? ›
Gambling is regulated tightly through strict laws to maintain law and order as well as to minimise potential harm to the society. Gambling activities are prohibited unless they are exempted or licensed. MHA adopts a holistic approach to tackling law and order concerns associated with gambling activities.Can you gamble in your own house? ›
Some people decide to cut out the middle man and buy a slot machine of their own to enjoy while at home. Unfortunately, unless the machine is an antique that is older than 25 years, this is illegal in the state of California.Can we play poker cards in public? ›
It is not illegal to play card in public. It is illegal to play cards for money, whether in public or private space, at it constitutes gambling, which is illegal.How do I get a gambling license in Singapore? ›
- - the appropriate application fee,
- - corporate and individual information about the operator issued by the Singapore Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority ,
The Gambling Control Act 2022 and the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Act 2022 were passed into law by the Singapore parliament on 11 March 2022 and came into effect on 1 August 2022. The legislation has three key objectives: Addressing emerging trends and products associated with gambling.