record S$8.1 billion (US$ 5.69 billion) was spent on lotteries and sports betting in the financial year that ended in March last year, thanks to the increase in bets placed during the 2018 World Cup. The figure is an increase of almost 10 percent compared with the S$7.4 billion spent on the same games during the preceding financial year.
Currently, all bets are off during the circuit breaker period, which has been extended to June 1, and sums wagered in the current financial year are unlikely to hit new peaks. All Singapore Pools outlets, the Singapore Turf Club and the two casinos have been closed since more stringent measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 were implemented on April 7.
The spike in bets in its financial year that ended last March was driven largely by the 2018 World Cup in Russia, according to a Tote Board spokesman cited by The Straits Times.
Lotteries comprise 4-D, Toto and Singapore Sweep, while sports betting refers to soccer and motor racing bets. No individual breakdown of these games was provided in the Tote Board’s annual report. The Tote Board, a statutory body, governs lottery operator Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club, which operates the horse races.
The sum total placed on lotteries and sports betting has been increasing almost every year in the past decade. The S$8.1 billion wagered on these games represents a 35 percent increase from the S$6 billion placed on bets in the financial year that ended in March 2010.
Counsellors have given reasons behind the enduring popularity of 4-D and Toto. People can place small bets, these games are easy to play and then there is the lure of million-dollar prizes for Toto. Besides, Singapore Pools outlets are located all over the island and are easily accessible.
As for the surge in bets in the financial year that ended last March, counsellors said that regular punters and problem gamblers tend to bet more during the once-in-four-years World Cup in the hope of winning big. One Hope Centre received about 100 calls for help about two months after the 2018 World Cup ended – double the usual number they receive in a month. The centre’s manager, Ms Joanna Kong, said that these gamblers would only look for help after they have exhausted their savings, family’s goodwill and even licensed money lenders.
Meanwhile, horse racing and the casinos have lost their shine among punters. While S$1.1 billion (US$ 773.6 million) was bet on horses in each of the financial years that ended in March 2018 and March last year, those sums were nowhere near the S$2.1 billion high of the financial year that ended in March 2010. Horse racing is a lot more popular among seniors, counsellors said, while younger men are more into soccer betting.
Likewise, the collected casino entry levies fell from $131 million in the financial year that ended in March 2018 to S$125 million (US$87.9 million) in the financial year that ended in March last year. There has been a steady decline in sums collected as entry levy, which Singaporeans and permanent residents have to pay to enter a casino in Singapore, since the two casinos opened in 2010.
Counsellors said that the novelty has worn off among the locals. Besides, many of the addicts are likely to have barred themselves from entering already after losing their fortunes there.