A brief history of gambling in Singapore

When you think of the world’s top gambling destination, you think of Las Vegas, right? After all, it has set the benchmark for what a resort casino town should be. But across the Pacific, Macau seems to take the spotlight. It deserves it, with impressive casino properties attracting Asia’s biggest whales.

But about a 3.5-hour flight away is another impressive gambling country that is on the radar of big-time gamblers. It doesn’t make the news as much as Macau, but it definitely attracts big money from people looking for a world-class experience.

We’re talking about Singapore, the island city-state near southern Malaysia. And today we’ve got a bit of history for you.

It was in April 2005 that the Prime Minister of Singapore announced that the country would open two resort casinos. And for good reason. There was already a huge appetite for gambling. We’re talking a multi-billion dollar appetite.

The Singapore lottery operator was making $4 billion a year. For the record, that’s about $11 million per day. Citizens across the country loved the concept of winning big for a small sum. But while the lottery numbers are impressive on their own, they were just the tip of the iceberg.

The truth of the matter is that Singaporeans were already spending billions of dollars on illegal betting. A survey conducted back then revealed that nearly 60% of Singaporeans 18 and older had gambled in the country over the last year.

Keep in mind this is 2004, a few years before the online casino boom. Yes, there were online casinos back then, but they paled in comparison to the bells and whistles you’d find online today. Slots were limited to 3-reel classic. Table games were primitive looking. And you definitely didn’t find any live dealer games online.

How did the big money translate to the little guy? Well, on average, Singaporeans were spending $244 a month on betting. The lottery took the top spot with a participation rate hovering around 30%. This was followed by card games like mahjong, and then scratch and win games rounding out the top three.

But the first casino, though authorized in 2005, didn’t actually open its doors until 2010. It was February 13th, to be exact. And to be more exact, it was 11:18pm. Resorts World Sentosa opened its doors to much fanfare.

One year later, the Marina Bay Sands opened its doors, about two years late but still extremely impressive. The property is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the same company that owns and operates casinos in Vegas and all over the world.

While there are two casinos in Singapore, residents have a lot of choice of where to gamble. Many online sites like Silver Oak Casino are open to Singapore residents, and they can play online from the comforts of home (if you live in Singapore, please check your local laws first).

You don’t have to live in Singapore to play online. Silver Oak Casino is accessibly from various countries around the world so hop online and play. You can even hit the tables for free.