They were once found everywhere around the city. Tickets to the Singapore Sweep used to be strung across the counter of mamak shops (local convenience stores), neatly lined up on the tables of newspaper vendors and even peddled at the hawker centres by enterprising individuals. For a dollar, and eventually, three dollars, these slips of paper offered anyone a small chance to hit the jackpot. This monthly lottery, organised by the Singapore Pools since 1969, was one of the earliest forms of legalised gambling in the country. It was also its most visible—coming in eye- catching designs that even became a collector’s item.
This colourful chapter of the national lottery ended in July 2018, when the Singapore Pools began printing its tickets in the form of receipts like the company’s other popular lotteries, such as 4D and Toto. We look back at the Singapore Sweep’s design history to discover how its tickets were not just about form but function too.
1969: Singapore Sweep Goes National
Establishing a legalised national lottery was a controversial decision in 1960s Singapore as some feared it would encourage gambling. But the practical need to bring in revenue for the young nation and stamp out illegal gambling eventually outweighed this concern. In 1966, the Singapore Turf Club started a “Singapore Sweep” to raise funds for charitable causes. After the government established the Singapore Pools as its national lottery operator in 1968, the Singapore Sweep became part of this new organisation’s plan to raise funds for the construction of the country’s first national stadium. This is why a model of it featured prominently on this ticket printed for the lottery that was held on 28 February 1969.