Singapore Turf Club Closure: Where Can You Still Gamble Legally?

Singapore Turf Club Closure: Where Can You Still Gamble Legally?

2023 is going to be a very sad year for the uncles who faithfully buy Punters’ Way at 7-11. That’s because the government has announced that the Turf Club in Kranji will be closed for good in 2024 to free up land for redevelopment.

This ties into the government’s plans to turn Kranji into a nature and recreational hotspot, funnelling visitors to nearby destinations such as the Singapore Zoo and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves.

Whatever the reason, the sudden closure comes as a shock. Those who’ve never gambled in their lives might not realise the true impact of the Kranji Turf Club’s closure. About 350 employees will be displaced, and those in racing-related careers such as jockeys and horse owners will find themselves in the lurch.

More than that, the Singapore Turf Club actually has quite a bit of historical significance, and getting rid of it also means losing a part of our heritage.


History of the Singapore Turf Club

The Singapore Turf Club started its life in 1842 as the Singapore Sporting Club. It was founded by a Scottish merchant and his horse racing fan kakis. In its earliest incarnation, it ran horse racing activities at the Serangoon Road Race Course, located at Farrer Park Field.

The first race was held in February 1843 and was watched by over 300 punters, with $150 of prize money up for grabs.

In 1933, the club moved to its Bukit Timah racecourse, where Turf City now stands.

The club’s name was changed to Singapore Turf Club in 1924, but in 1988 the Singapore Totalisator Board was formed and the Bukit Turf Club took over racing operations. In 1994, its name was changed back to the Singapore Turf Club because, well, it sounded better internationally.

In 1999, the Singapore Turf Club moved to its current premises at the Kranji racecourse, with the first race held there being the Singapore Cup, with $350,000 of prize money up for grabs.

Now, after 15 years at the Kranji racecourse, the Singapore Turf Club will close its doors for good in 2024.

ALSO READ: What Is The Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) 99-1 Loophole in Singapore and Is It Illegal?


What are the legal gambling outlets/sites in Singapore?

Now that the Singapore Turf Club is about to breathe its last breath, punters might be wondering what else they can gamble their hard-earned money on.

Please note that we are NOT encouraging you to start gambling. If you’re not into it, all the better, stay the way you are.

But if you like to bet a bit of money for fun, it’s better to be aware of the legal gambling avenues in Singapore, rather than turn to illegal bookies and the like.  

In Singapore, the legal gambling channels are as follows:


1. Singapore Pools

Singapore Pools is a government-owned company and a subsidiary of the Tote Board, a stat board. It runs legal betting services.

This is where you see uncles and aunties queueing up in their lucky red underwear during the Chinese New Year Toto draw.

The following types of gaming are provided by Singapore Pools:

  • Sports betting, including football and motor racing
  • Lottery, including 4D, Toto and Singapore Sweep


2. Casinos

There are two casinos in Singapore at Resorts World Singapore and Marina Bay Sands. Singaporeans and PRs must pay $150 per entry. To avoid the per-entry levy, hardcore gamblers can opt to pay an annual levy of $3,000 instead.

Foreigners get in for free.

The following types of games are available at one or both casinos:

  • Baccarat
  • Blackjack
  • Craps
  • Poker
  • Pai Gow
  • Pontoon
  • Texas Hold’em poker
  • Sic Bo
  • Si Ki Pi
  • Roulette
  • Three Pictures
  • Tai Sai
  • Slot machine


3. Slot machines run by societies in jackpot rooms designated under the Gambling Control Act

Some societies such as country clubs have a slot machine room that you can legally use. 


4. Social gambling activities conducted in person in an individual’s home

Don’t worry, your private mahjong and poker sessions are legal, so long as they take place in an individual’s home (and not, say, a hotel room or chalet).

However, the gambling session must be non-commercial and you cannot obtain any benefits other than your winnings. So, don’t even think about trying to turn your living room into a gambling den or earning a quick buck by charging poker table rakes.

It should also be noted that only in-person social gambling is legal. If you’re gambling with friends online or through an app or website, it’s illegal.


What kind of gambling is illegal in Singapore?

Officially, all gambling activities in Singapore are prohibited unless they are exempted or licensed—in other words, unless your gambling activity falls into one of the categories in the above section,  it’s probably illegal.

So, if you’re watching a soccer match at your friend’s home and they ask you if you want to place a bet through their bookie, it’s illegal.

Here are some examples of gambling channels that are illegal in Singapore:

  • Betting through anything other than a licensed service provider, such as private bookies or your own friends
  • Any type of online gambling, including poker websites and mahjong apps, even if you’re playing with your own friends
  • Social gambling anywhere except an individual’s home
  • Social gambling in which at least one person is making a commercial benefit other than their winnings
  • Gambling as or with an individual aged under 21 years old (except for Singapore Pools betting, for which the minimum age is 18)


As a parting note…

The smartest financial decision is to not gamble in the first place. But if you want to place a few bets for the heck of it, at least stay out of trouble by making sure you’re not breaking the law.


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