2019 ended with the COVID-19 pandemic, which wreaked havoc globally, causing economic shutdowns and significant disruption to lives and livelihoods. Tote Board has not been spared. As part of the national effort to contain this virus,
we ceased all forms of wagering and betting. However, this has only solidified Tote Board’s resolution to give hope and improve the lives of Singaporeans. To fulfil this mission, we stepped up grantmaking initiatives, ensuring
that our partners can continue providing social and financial support to vulnerable groups, particularly those adversely affected by COVID-19. In the face of unprecedented crisis, it has become even more crucial for Tote Board to understand
the diverse needs of our community. In doing so, we can be proactive in deploying resources to help our partners and stakeholders to forge a cohesive and inclusive society.
Even as Tote Board manages the impact of COVID-19, we persist in our mission to counter illegal gambling by providing a safe, trusted avenue for responsible gaming. In fact, this has become even more pertinent as the temporary cessation
of our business inadvertently diverted punters to illegal gambling operations, especially in the online space.
In the face of unprecedented crisis, it has become even more crucial for Tote Board to understand the diverse needs of our community.
In doing so, we can be proactive in deploying resources to help our partners and stakeholders to forge a cohesive and inclusive society.
We moved swiftly in the fight against COVID-19, rallying behind the nation’s call to prioritise public health and care for vulnerable groups. Comprehensive safe distancing measures were implemented to minimise close contact among
customers, fortified by a suspension of our betting operations and horse racing activities at the onset of the Circuit Breaker. To strengthen support for charities, which may experience lower income and donations during this difficult
period, Tote Board curated the Enhanced Fund-Raising (EFR) Programme so that care and help for vulnerable groups will not be compromised. Through our EFR Programme, the government partners with Tote Board to provide charities with
dollar-for-dollar matching, capped at $250,000 per charity. Staff of the Tote Board Group also volunteered for the Solidarity Payment Volunteerism Project, putting in more than 7,000 hours to help recipients safely encash their Solidarity
Payment cheques at 16 Community Clubs island-wide. In partnership with government agencies, we converted selected parts of the Singapore Racecourse at Kranji into a temporary dormitory, supporting the national strategy to manage the
health and welfare of migrant workers.
We have witnessed how COVID-19 rapidly reshaped consumer behaviour, dramatically increasing the use of digital services and transactions. Our betting population likewise, shifted to online transactions, which are fraught with the many
dangers of illegal gambling websites. We strive to protect and retain our customers through strong product and service delivery in the online space, incorporating robust safeguards to inculcate a responsible gaming culture. To tackle
the challenge of illegal gambling in Singapore more holistically, we are stepping up efforts to strengthen research capabilities within the Tote Board Group. This will enable us to develop deeper understanding of and insights into
the illegal gambling landscape, facilitating the formulation of more effective measures to counter illegal operators.
To tackle the challenge of illegal gambling in Singapore more holistically, we are stepping up efforts to strengthen research capabilities
within the Tote Board Group.
Collaboration is underway with the Urban Redevelopment Authority to transform the Singapore Racecourse into a compelling leisure, recreation and commercial destination, as part of rejuvenating the North Region in Singapore. The new concept
will transform the Racecourse into a community space with a unique equestrian heritage, providing thematic recreation and accommodation, retail and F&B choices for Singaporeans and visitors. The desired outcome is to provide people
of all ages with high-quality community spaces, amenities and programmes, supporting Tote Board’s broader, strategic outcome of building inclusive, vibrant and resilient communities. A Racecourse Masterplan Committee has been
formed to guide and steer the project, supported by the Masterplanning Project Office.
Mr T Udairam, Mr Ng Soo Nam, Mr Chan Heng Kee and Ms Anita Fam have stepped down from the Board, and I thank them for their unstinting support and invaluable contributions during their terms of office. I also welcome new members Dr Ang
Seng Bin, Mr Hou Wey Fook, Mr Ng How Yue, Ms Penny Goh and Mr Neo Sing Hwee to the Board, and look forward to their participation and contributions.
The progress we have made over the past year was made possible by close partnerships and collaboration with our people, partners and stakeholders.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the Board, staff of the Tote Board Group, partners and other stakeholders for their continued belief and unwavering support in Tote Board’s endeavour to uplift
our community by Giving Hope to vulnerable groups and Improving Lives for all in Singapore.