​Illegal 4D and Toto Gambling in Singapore

Illegal 4D and Toto Gambling in Singapore


For the last 50 years gambling has been legal in Singapore even though it had existed for an extended period. Before the legalization of gambling, it was usually carried out by Chinese mobsters, and it involved a lot of crime and violence hence leading to the government coming up with laws to control it. This was also supported by the realisation that prohibiting gambling would not eradicate it from the country, but on the centrally it would create room for the rise of illegal activities and hence they would suffer the various associated negative consequences. In 1968, the gambling market was re-opened, through Singapore Pools, which was expected to offer a safe environment and also neutralise the various illegal activities that were on the rise during this period. This was also combined with campaigns of responsibility, self-empowerment and risk awareness when gambling. One other reason that the government has allowed only Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club to offer 4D and Toto lottery are because it was seen as a way of reducing the growing gambling addiction whose effect included excessive financial loss and eventual downfall.


Some of the games offered include Toto (Lottery 6/49), The Singapore Sweep (Tombola), 4-Digits Lottery and various sporting betting on football events and motorsports. Even with this kind of controlled environment being offered where the government owns the licensed companies under the Ministry of Finance, the last few years have seen the rise of online gambling menace. This has led to a reduced government revenues as large chunk of profits is lost from the two legitimate gaming companies in the country and hence depriving the extra government revenues which can be used to achieve various forms of social good in the country.  This led to the government passing a law banning gambling on unlicensed websites. The last one year has seen the Singaporean government accelerate efforts to start blocking these websites.


New websites are still coming up offering games especially Toto and 4D with some using Virtual Private Network to bypass and access the blocked websites. With data from Singapore Pools showing that the country is among the top spenders in gambling with everyone estimated to have spent $1,760 on gambling in 2012, there is high demand for these activities in the country. Even though these new websites still keep coming up, they have lesser customers.  One key challenge with these sites is that they may sometimes give wrong 4D result and Toto result as they are controlled by individuals whose main objective is their financial wealth.


The government has been putting various measures including outlawing online gambling except for Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club who were allowed to operate online gambling in 2016. The act made it illegal to participate in any remote gambling either over the phone, via TV or radio, on the internet or using any other form of information communication technology.  With this law, the types of games that one can participate in were also reduced with only Toto, 4D, F1 and horse racing is the only options offered by these companies. This means that if a customer wants to participate, they should expect the 4D result and the Toto result from these Singapore Pools. Some of the affected games which though popular are illegal include poker and various other casino-style games. If one is found participating in illegal betting activities, especially through the various illegal online betting companies, then they are liable to 6 months’ jail or $5,000 or both.


Another form of gambling that is illegal according to the Remote Gambling Act is betting on overseas-based remote gambling websites and other associated services. To control this one of the measures that the government adopted was blocking these sites as the act made it illegal to use bay foreign-based betting services regardless of where they are located. For most people finding a way to circumvent this has been a risky option that they have adopted. Some of the risks associated with this are that it is hard to determine exactly where these services are located and when caught there are legal consequences that one can suffer as specified in the Act. Also, these operators are not regulated by any authority body which means that in some cases the 4D result for a game week may be manipulated to favour the operators and lead to financial loss to the customers.


The Act also made it illegal to bet through local bookies even though this is a practice that is still carried out. This is because, all the Singapore-based bookies, as are all the other gambling services except those offered by Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club are illegal. This also extends to the customer who uses these services because when arrested using them you face the same legal consequences as the service provider. This includes the use of betting websites, placing bets over phone calls or messages or placing them through any social networking sites where betting messages are posted. For example, during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, many police raids were carried out where unlawful gambling service providers and customers were arrested. Under the Remote Gambling Act 2014, people who offer these unlawful services are liable for a conviction to a fine of not less than S$20,000 and not more than S$200,000. These people can also be jailed for not more than five years, or they can be liable for both convictions. Considering that gambling is a game of numbers and chances, participating in illegal gambling activities adds the extra risk that there are legal consequences which put a permanent label of a criminal on one’s records.


The extent of who is liable for illegal gambling also extends to people who allow their mobile numbers and bank accounts to be used by the illegal gambling websites and service providers. This is because this is another aspect of the gambling process which is also illegal under the Act as it promotes and facilitates the gambling activities to be successfully carried out. Since 2015 when the Remote Gambling Act was implemented, more than 800 websites and 200 bank accounts have been closed. This has meant that more than S$7M worth of transactions had been blocked in the process as the fight against illegal gambling in the country intensifies. This year has especially seen a large number of gambling platforms being blocked with around 80 illegal gambling websites and six bank accounts belonging to illegal gambling operators and which they used to transfer money being blocked.


To ensure that the fight against illegal gambling in the country is intensified, the government has been focusing efforts on warning the public against placing bets with illegal gambling platforms and to use the legally approved Singapore Pool and Singapore Turf Clubs where 4D and Toto are legally available options. This means that when one accesses 4D or Toto from other operators that are not legally approved, they also face the same legal consequences that people who participate in various online illegal betting platforms face.


With gambling still being an issue in the country, various other efforts have been set up to help those who are already addicted. This includes the efforts by the National Council on Problem Gambling to intensify public education and outreach programs which are aimed at both helping them recover and warn those who still participate in illegal gambling of the associated dangers which they face. Gambling Helplines have also been set up by the government to ensure that people suffering from the issue can request for help anonymously through the e-counselling services offered through the agency. All these efforts have been aimed at ensuring that these operators are put out of business for good. One emerging issue in this fight has been the use of various technological tools such as social media applications like WeChat to communicate with customers and accomplices. Even though that is the case, the government’s efforts have also advanced with various cybersecurity efforts being put in place to ensure that such operators are arrested. In some cases, the Singapore Police have used social networking platforms such as Facebook to post warning messages against illegal 4D and Toto betting in the country. This includes warning the participants of the resulting consequence including getting fake 4D result and Toto result.


In 2016, a bookie was arrested, jailed for two weeks and fined S$20,000 for helping a customer place an S$30 bet for an illegal Toto lottery. This shows just how strict the government is in punishing even those illegal betting activities that involve small amounts of money. In this case, the court found the accused guilty of assisting his friend carry out a Toto lottery which is illegal in the country. In this case, his friend also pleaded guilty of gambling and money lending charges. In this case, both of them had participated in illegal activity. The number of police raids in multi-million-dollar gambling operations has also been a lot including in 2017 when six people were arrested and prosecuted under the new Organized Crime Act which came into force in June that year. Some of the charges that these people were charged for included remote gambling, corruption, drug trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Acts specifications.


For the above example, bets worth more than S$17M were received which shows that there are a lot of potential revenues that are lost by the government through activities and hence the resolve to ensure that they are eliminated. There have been other cases where an individual handles bets of more than S$600,000 illegally. These illegal betting operators have highly organised means of recruiting the less suspecting people such as newspaper vendors by promising them that they would earn extra income by working as their agents collecting illegal 4D and Toto bets. These operators then have their punters with the agent earning around 8% of the total bets that have been collected and 5% of the winning amount. To ensure increased earnings from these operations some of the operators have around 20 punters who place illegal 4d and Toto bets for them through a phone call or text messages. To ensure that they can reach a wider number of customers these operators then open 4D and Toto websites where customers can come and place their bets and then they will consolidate them or send them individually to their punters who then place the bets. After the customers use these services to place the bets, the operators will post the 4D result and the Toto Result on the platform. With such kind of operations, such operators can make millions of Singapore Dollars from activities which have been illegalised under the Remote Gambling Act.


To also ensure increased widespread of these operations, some of the operators have more than 100 agents which makes the efforts by the government to arrest them very hard. They are also usually associated with other illegal activities such as drug trafficking and money laundering all of which are social evils. This is different from the social good that experienced when gamblers use the two legally approved services, in Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club where they can access both the 4D and Toto lottery games. The earnings from these operations by the companies are not used as profits, but rather they are channelled into various charity projects which are beneficial for the whole country as opposed to illegal earnings that only benefit the few individuals involved in these operations. Given that the legal consequences when caught extend to the customer who decides to use these services and the fact that it is a game of chance where the customer can always lose the money it is important to follow the right channels when participating in either 4D or Toto Lottery games. Also, the risks increase given that for most of these operators offering illegal betting services, they are usually involved in other criminal activities which means chances of money loss are increased. For most people who participate in these illegal activities, especially in the agency capacities, the motivation to earn extra money by just collecting bets from unsuspecting customers willing to participate in 4D and Toto Lotteries has been a great motivation and has the key factor to continued increase in the number of illegal betting services in the country. This is the motivation that saw a newspaper vendor, who was earning around S$50 per day earning more than S$640,000 in four years. This was easily earned money as all he had to do to invite customers to participate in 4D and Toto, collect the money and receive bets from them and then communicate this with the other players in operation.


Even though these channels where illegal betting services can be easily accessed, the government is still intensifying its crackdown on these operations and all players, regardless of whether they are customers or agents are arrested and charged. Legal options still exist where customers can use the legally approved channels to participate in 4D and Toto.


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