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Singapore bars individuals receiving criminal legal aid from accessing casinos

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A new Singapore regulation effective since April 1 prohibits individuals receiving criminal legal aid from entering casinos, jackpot rooms, or accessing their Singapore Pools betting accounts while they are under representation.

According to The Straits Times, the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) announced that the rule applies to accused persons receiving defence aid from both the PDO and the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS), administered by Pro Bono SG, a charitable organization.

These individuals will regain access to gambling venues only two weeks after their legal aid ceases or upon the conclusion of their court case.

Criminal lawyers have welcomed this move, which aims to safeguard the financial well-being of aid recipients, particularly considering their financially vulnerable circumstances, according to a Ministry of Law (MinLaw) spokesperson.

While all current recipients of criminal defence aid are subject to this exclusion, the spokesperson noted that only a small fraction have records of visiting casinos, jackpot rooms, or holding online gambling accounts with Singapore Pools.

Launched in December 2022, the PDO, a department under MinLaw, extends coverage to Singapore citizens and permanent residents up to the 35th income percentile.

To qualify for representation, clients must undergo a merits test to determine whether they stand to benefit from legal aid or have reasonable grounds for defense or appeal. However, it’s worth noting that public defenders do not handle cases related to gambling, organized crime, syndicate activities, or terrorism.

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