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Singapore Cryptocurrency Regulations Fuelling Online Gambling In Malaysia

02 October 2020 07:27, UTC
Denis Goncharenko

Unlike many other countries, the city-state of Singapore can be regarded as a successful example of the government authorities giving the cryptocurrency the attention that it deserves. By putting crypto into the spotlight, Singaporean authorities ensured that the industry functions smoothly, facilitates the national economy, and is properly regulated.

Earlier this year, Singapore became one of the first countries to issue a regulatory law, under which businesses affiliated with cryptocurrency are obliged to follow the rules of AML and CTF. By issuing the new Payment Services Act, Singapore has made a massive step towards acknowledging that with all the benefits that the expansion of the cryptocurrency industry can provide for the state’s economy, it may simultaneously open a gateway for the growth of illegal activities funded by crypto.

Legal Gray Zone: Malaysian Safe Haven Of Online Gambling

While the new regulations are looking promising, and, on the large-scale, reinforce the image of the city-state as the place with the most efficient and comprehensive regulations in place, it might not all be that rosy. For Singaporeans, cryptocurrency has long been a gateway to something which cannot be accessed if not approached anonymously. Something like online gambling, for example.

Singapore’s Remote Gambling Act of 2014 prohibits all forms of online gambling, including sports betting, and online casinos. So far, only the Singapore Pool is allowed for bets on horse races and other sports. Since offshore providers are also prohibited from providing online gambling services, where does this leave those who genuinely enjoy the thrill and adrenaline, available in the comfort of their own homes? Well, for a while, cryptocurrency was the answer to that. The anonymity that came with using cryptos meant that Singaporeans could access foreign casino platforms, that, in turn, were more than happy to host them, and Malaysia would be the primary example.

Online gambling in Malaysia is a legal gray zone and a point of confusion for many. Both the Malaysian Betting Act of 1953 and Sharia Law in this primarily Muslim country outlaw any forms of gambling, and the Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953 specifically prohibits sports betting and bookmaking. However, with the amount of Malaysians using digital gambling services growing on a daily basis, it is hard to be certain about the illegal status of the industry. So, is online gambling in Malaysia illegal? The answer is definitely yes. But would you actually face any form of punishment and be prosecuted for gambling in Malaysia? Probably not. With the surge of online gambling platforms, it would be an unrealistic task for the Malaysian authorities to run around trying to identify, shut down, and prosecute every single one of them. Chances are that you are pretty safe when gambling on the Internet in Malaysia.

Life-Long Implications: Moral Compass Enforced By Government?

For Singaporeans, Malaysia has long been a safe haven of online gambling. Cryptocurrency made it impossible to trace them, and everyone could enjoy the lack of proper regulatory measures imposed by Malaysian authorities. That being said, it did come with a price. With no proper regulations, Singaporeans had to resort to the underground illegal online platforms, with no guarantee that they could shut down at any point and take user’s money with them. Nevertheless, it was the risk they were willing to take until the new regulations imposed by the government of Singapore meant that their activity would not only be tracked but could also be used against them.

For example, local banks could request the data on the applicants’ cryptocurrency activity, and, potentially refuse to give out a loan due to the unreliability of a potential candidate. On top of having extremely serious, and often life-changing implications for the members of the general public, the new law might not even be sufficient in ensuring the security of the cryptocurrency-related activities. To be more specific, the new regulations fail to include the need for an in-depth analysis of the nature of the tokens and activities to determine whether they fall under any security laws. Failure to do so might leave the door wide open for a whole range of illegal activities with crypto, far more serious than online gambling on a foreign platform.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to mention that the new law will significantly contribute towards the development of the national blockchain projects, and the government of Singapore has already announced that the multicurrency Ubin Project will soon be launched, and a partnership with China in order to establish CBDC might also be in sight. It is too early to make any predictions, but soon enough the efficiency of the new regulations will become more apparent.

Image courtesy of Mashable