Thursday February 20,2014 : BE SELECTIVE IN ONLINE GAMBLING BANS, EXPERT TELLS SINGAPORE
Is this European gambling consultant suggesting a monopolistic system?
Following recent reports that the Singapore government is considering serious restrictions on internet and mobile gambling , a European expert gave his views to the nation's Institute of Policy Studies this week…and seemed to advocate a monopoly system that would largely exclude online casino and poker operators.
The controversial view was expressed by Paris-based expert Christian Kalb (49) of CK Consulting, who said in his view the best way for Singapore to go would be to impose a monopolistic system involving perhaps two or three major operators and restricting the type of bets they could offer.
"Not banning completely, but restricting; not authorising every kind of bet,” said Kalb who has apparently consulted for 22 European and African governments.
The Straits Times reports that Kalb took a generally anti-internet gambling stance, claiming that its anonymous nature made it difficult to police, and commenting that a diversity of risks made it a bad option and one that should only be handled with great care.
He felt the same way about online poker, reportedly saying that the large amounts of money involved in that sector might pose a money-laundering risk.
Remote gambling also posed risks of corruption in sport such as match fixing or otherwise influencing player action in a game, he said. The growing sophistication of betting technology meant that companies could now offer numerous in-play and standard bets on in-game occurrences such as the award of red and yellow cards or when a particular action would take place.
"Today, you can bet on everything. At the next World Cup, some operators may offer more than 250 different bets for one single game," Kalb said.
He did not appear to substantiate his opinion with factual detail – not unusual in anti-online gambling claims – or balance his views with a review of the advanced systems online gambling companies routinely use to mitigate such risks and identify colluders.
The expert went on to suggest the imposition of substantial taxes on those online gaming operators selected for licensing, perhaps of 25 percent of gross gaming revenue, and helping "legal" online companies to develop attractive products.
Kalb was in Singapore to train staff at Singapore Pools, and gave his opinions at a lunch attended by problem gambling agencies, community representatives and law enforcement officials.
He outlined measures adopted by national regulators in Europe to exclude unauthorised online operators, such as ISP blocking and restrictions on advertising and financial transactions, tactics already being actively considered by the Singapore authorities seeking to restrain online gambling and strictly regulate a limited number of operators
Remote gambling should be regulated more stringently than traditional gambling and the key is to first address illegal gambling, said Kalb, claiming that 80 percent of global [online] betting is illegal. No system could be absolutely effective, the expert suggested, but if a ninety percent success rate was achieved it could have a beneficial impact.
Speaking to The Straits Times after the forum, Kalb gave his thoughts on anti-online gambling measures that Singapore could adopt, suggesting that instead of a blanket ban, the enforcement authorities concentrate on a "practical" ban of the top 50 operators accessing the Singapore punter.
"You do not need to target a small bookmaker based in Central America," he said. "You choose the targets, and it is not 1,000 companies."
He recommended that in the event of new online gambling laws being introduced, Singapore restricts licensing to companies physically based in the country which can be accessed by regulatory, auditing and financial authorities. And strict limits on the type and level of bets to be offered.
Tough deterrent punitive measures should also be included and rigorously enforced, Kalb said.