Singapore Bans People Receiving Legal Aid from Gambling

Singapore’s casinos will no longer grant access to specific individuals who are receiving criminal legal aid. The move marks the latest effort of the country to prevent abuse. Newly implemented regulations seek to ban people from gambling who are benefitting from legal representation via Singapore’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (Clas).

Currently, the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, which is under the Ministry of Law’s Public Defender’s Office, provides legal representation for people who cannot afford it. A charity called Pro Bono SG is in charge of Clas.

To eliminate potential abuse, Singapore implemented new rules which came into effect on April 1, 2024. Under the new regulations, anyone who benefits from legal aid won’t be permitted to gamble at brick-and-mortar casinos. Moreover, such individuals won’t be permitted to participate in the lottery, engage in slot gambling or gamble online.

The changes were discussed by a spokesperson for the Ministry of Law, who was recently cited by the Straits Times. The spokesperson explained that the change seeks to “safeguard the financial situation of aid recipients, in view of their financially vulnerable circumstances.”

Moreover, the Ministry of Law’s spokesperson said that based on an analysis of records provided by gambling operators, only a handful of people who receive legal aid engage in gambling activities. Still, the representative confirmed that the latest changes affect everyone who currently benefits from legal aid.

All existing recipients of criminal defense aid are affected by this exclusion. However, only a small number have records of visiting the casinos, jackpot machine rooms, or have an online gambling account with Singapore Pools,

explained a spokesperson for the Ministry of Law in Singapore

Changes Welcomed by Lawyers

In light of the recent changes, anyone currently benefiting from legal aid won’t be permitted to gamble without any exceptions. However, if a person’s court case is concluded, they will be allowed to gamble. Similarly, people who have stopped receiving legal aid for two weeks will also be permitted to resume gambling.

Expert lawyers were pleased with the newly implemented regulations. Josephus Tan, Invictus Law’s founder, who was interviewed by the Straits Times, revealed that a person who cannot afford legal aid must not be permitted to purchase lottery tickets for example. He said that taxpayers wouldn’t like to see their money spent on people who cannot pay for legal aid but have money to gamble away.