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Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore

between $10,000 to a million dollars or even higher in a brick and mortar casino. It is not generally possible to lose that quickly with lotteries or horse betting.

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Turning to the Internet, it should be obvious why there has been much concern

over websites offering casino-style games. There are no checks to ensure the casino “equipment” is not rigged. When the digital roulette wheel is spun, there is no guarantee that the ball is not deliberately programmed to fall into a number where players have not placed bets. Where online casinos set no table limit or very high table

limits, it also means the rate at which a player can lose money is much faster.

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Similarly, online slot machines suffer from the high possibility of cheating by

the operator. The online reels of an online slot machine can be programmed so as not to give any returns ever. In countries where physical slot machines are allowed, the governments usually stipulate the minimum payout per number of spins to ensure that players have a chance of winning something. Random checks are also often carried out by government inspectors to ensure that slot machines are not tampered with by the

operators.

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The three other major concerns with casino-style games are the possibility for

money laundering, the unscrupulous operators who lure underage gamblers and those operators who have a disregard for promoting responsible gambling. Legalisation of this type of online gambling would certainly increase the availability and accessibility of gambling to the ordinary person while at the same time could well undermine the anti-gambling policies of other jurisdictions especially if no technical geo-location

techniques are employed.

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The casino-style game which has grown the most in popularity in recent years is

online poker which was reported to have grown in revenue from US$82m in annual revenue in 2000 to over US$2bn in 2005.38 The same report listed Antigua as the jurisdiction with the highest number of gambling websites, followed by Costa Rica. In the UK, the Gaming Act in 2005 significantly liberalised the regulation of online gambling with the result that a number of online gambling companies are now publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. These include PartyGaming, Ladbrokes and

Sportingbet.

D.

Games of skill

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Games of skill or games which are predominantly games of skill are not

regarded as gambling in most jurisdictions. The most obvious examples are games of tennis, archery, or darts. Sometimes, skill games are provided on the Internet by dedicated operators or as an added draw to websites, which may require the player to play against other players or simply against the computer. To the extent that these are

38

Dresdner Kleiner, “Research Report on Internet Poker” (June 2005).

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