The History of Gambling in Singapore

Gambling has been a part of Singapore’s culture for centuries, with traditional forms of gambling such as Toto and 4D still popular today. However, the history of gambling in Singapore also includes the arrival of Western-style gambling in the 19th century, as well as a significant illegal gambling industry in the early 20th century. Understanding the history of gambling in Singapore is important in order to fully appreciate its current state and the role it plays in Singaporean society.

Pre-Independence Era

Singaporean culture has always included types of gambling. For example, Toto is a form of lottery that originated in China and has been played in Singapore since the 1960s. Similarly, 4D is a popular number game that originated in Malaysia and is still played in Singapore today. However, in the 19th century, Western-style gambling began to arrive in Singapore, including games like roulette and baccarat.

As popular the new games were, they were breaking the law. Instead, an illegal gambling industry began to emerge in Singapore, with underground casinos and gambling dens operating throughout the city. The government attempted to crack down on illegal gambling, but these efforts were largely unsuccessful.

Early Independence Era

After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the government continued its crackdown on illegal gambling. However, in 1968, the government introduced a legal lottery called the Singapore Sweep. This marked the beginning of legal gambling in Singapore. In 1969, the Singapore Turf Club was also established, bringing legal horse racing to the country. These first steps prepared the foundation for the later expansion of the legal online casino Singapore.

Late 20th Century

In the late 20th century, the gambling industry in Singapore underwent significant changes. In 1986, the government established the Singapore Pools, a state-run organization that operates legal lotteries and sports betting. The introduction of legal lotteries and sports betting was seen as a way to channel public demand for gambling into a safe and regulated environment, while also generating revenue for the government.

In 1995, the government approved the development of two casinos, which marked a major shift in Singapore’s gambling landscape. The government envisioned the casinos as part of a broader strategy to boost tourism and economic growth. The construction of Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa was a major undertaking, involving billions of dollars in investment and years of planning and construction.

The integrated resorts that emerged from this effort transformed the gambling industry in Singapore. They offered a wide range of amenities, including luxury hotels, shopping malls, convention centers, and world-class entertainment venues. The casinos themselves were state-of-the-art facilities that featured thousands of online slot machine games like Mega Moolah and table games, along with high-stakes gaming areas for VIPs and high rollers.

Present Day

Today, gambling in Singapore is a highly regulated industry that generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. Lotteries, sports books, horse races, and casinos are all examples of legalised forms of gambling. Singapore’s two casinos remain major attractions, drawing tourists from around the world. The Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa complexes are now iconic landmarks of the city-state, and they continue to expand and evolve to keep pace with changing market demands.

The government takes a proactive approach to regulating the industry and promoting responsible gambling. The National Council on Problem Gambling was established in 2005 to address problem gambling and provide support for those affected by it. The council offers a range of services, including counseling, treatment, and education programs. The government has also implemented a range of measures to prevent underage gambling, such as strict age verification procedures and heavy penalties for those who are caught.

Future of Gambling in Singapore

The future of gambling in Singapore is a subject of ongoing debate and discussion. On the one hand, the gambling industry remains an important contributor to the country’s economy and tourism industry. The Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa casinos alone generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and they employ thousands of people.

On the other side, problems with gambling including addiction, debt, and social problems are cause for worry. In response to these issues, the government has been strengthening laws in recent years. In 2019, the government announced a ban on remote gambling websites, which took effect in February 2021. The ban was intended to prevent illegal gambling and protect vulnerable individuals from the harms associated with online gambling.

It remains to be seen what the long-term future of gambling in Singapore will look like. Some experts predict that the industry will continue to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions, while others believe that further restrictions may be imposed in the coming years. One thing is certain: gambling will remain an important and complex issue in Singapore for the foreseeable future.


The history of gambling in Singapore is a rich and complex tapestry that reflects the country’s unique cultural, economic, and social landscape. From traditional forms of gambling to the arrival of Western-style games and the development of a legal gambling industry, gambling has played an important role in Singaporean society. The government’s approach to regulating the industry has been proactive and innovative, and it has resulted in a highly regulated and safe gambling environment.

James Morkel

Tech website author with a passion for all things technology. Expert in various tech domains, including software, gadgets, artificial intelligence, and emerging technologies. Dedicated to simplifying complex topics and providing informative and engaging content to readers. Stay updated with the latest tech trends and industry news through their insightful articles.

Related Articles

Back to top button