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Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore

games of skill, they do not constitute gambling. If they are played for money or some other award, they would be contests or competitions or tournaments. In the US, much controversy has raged over the years at the federal and state levels in the judiciary and legislature over whether certain activities are predominantly games of skill or games of chance.39 Today, it is clear in the US that chess, checkers and pinball machines are games of skill but pinball machines that awarded prizes were banned for a period of time in the past. 40


Similarly, video games played on computers, PDAs, and 3G mobile phones or

console-style videogame systems such as PS2 are games of skill and not gambling. The

element of chance plays little or no part in determining the outcome of these games.


Fantasy leagues


Fantasy leagues allow players to create fictional teams utilising the names of

real-world athletes and then using their statistics in the real-world matches to determine the winners. So for example, a baseball fantasy team could consist of a pitcher from the New York Yankees and a batsman from the Boston Red Sox and so on. Fantasy league players usually pay an entry fee to become owners of fantasy teams and they can manage their teams throughout the season. The performance of the actual sportsperson is used to determine scores. For example, if a fantasy team has five batsmen who hit home runs in every one of their real-world matches, this fantasy team will stand a better chance at winning the fantasy league than another fantasy team consisting of players who did not hit a ball the whole season.


Fantasy leagues are generally regarded in many jurisdictions, such as the US, as

games of skills and not gambling as it requires studying the teams and the players to

assemble a winning team.



Online games or MMORPGs and virtual worlds


Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (“MMORPGs”) usually

refer to those themed games such as “World of Warcraft” and “Everquest” in which multiple players can play with and against one another online.42 Virtual worlds on the other hand is a more general term that include MMORPGs as well as those persistent virtual environments where the developers do not regard their virtual worlds as games

39 40 41

See paras 79–93 on the US analysis below. See, eg, US v Two Coin-Operated Pinball Machines 241 F Supp 57 (DC Ky 1965).

See also, Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which allows fantasy leagues. See paras 79–93 on the US analysis.


Yee Fen Lim, “Is It Really Just a Game? Copyright and Online Role-Playing Games” (2006) 1 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice 481.


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