Three dozen people were detained this week in Singapore as part of a police effort to crack down on illegal gambling and moneylending, according to a local news report.
CNA, an English-language TV channel in Singapore, said 10 suspects are to be charged in local court on Wednesday. They face counts of illicit remote gambling and illegal moneylending, CNA adds. The suspects were between the ages of 26 and 63. All except one were male.
Authorities seized more than S$770,000 in cash during the raids. That works out to about US $573,000. Computers, cell phones, pre-paid cards, documents, and computers were also seized, police said. In addition, suspects’ bank accounts were frozen by authorities, the report adds.
The investigation focused on illegal gambling-related activities. These include providing unlawful remote gambling services, operating and gaming in a common gaming house, and operating an unlicensed moneylending syndicate, the report said.
The crackdown took place on Tuesday. It involved simultaneous raids at several locations.
These were: Potong Pasir, Serangoon, Toa Payoh, Tampines, Bishan, Hougang, Pasir Ris, Punggol, Woodlands, Telok Blangah, Tanjong Pagar, and Bukit Batok, CNA reported.
If found guilty, defendants could face fines as well as jail time of up to five years per offense, the report said.
Suspects found guilty of moneylending violations could also get as many as six strokes of a cane, CNA said. That could be in addition to fines or jail time.
The police will continue to take tough enforcement action and clamp down on criminal activities, including remote gambling and loansharking,” the Singapore police said in a statement to CNA.
“Those found engaging in illicit activities will be dealt with sternly in accordance with the law.”
Earlier this month, it was predicted the two licensed casinos in Singapore will not see their gaming revenues fully recover from COVID-19 until sometime in 2026, according to gaming analysts at Bernstein. The legal casinos are Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa.
Singapore’s two integrated casino resorts have been severely impacted by COVID-19 over the past 16 months.
Bernstein projects that gross gaming revenue (GGR) in 2021 will grow 12 percent to approximately $940 million, and in 2022 to $1.36 billion.
As to when the Singapore gaming floors might return to the $1.9 billion they won in 2019 prior to the pandemic, analysts predict that won’t happen until 2025 or later.
Prior to the pandemic, Marina Bay Sands was the most profitable casino resort in the world. In 2019, its casino’s GGR totaled more than $2.16 billion.