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Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore

common gaming house since it was “open to the public and anyone could access to bet on online casino games via the computers”. 58

53

Two important observations can be made from this:

53.1

First, at the fundamental and more obvious level, it demonstrates that the mode of gaming does not matter (ie it does not matter whether the activity is conducted online or offline) provided all the other elements of the offence is satisfied (and this is where there may be some lacuna in the law). Instead what matters is the nature of these games, in particular whether these games are games of chance or skill. This emphasises the substantive similarities between the type of gambling that enforcement is taken against whether it is conducted electronically or physically (and hence leaves outside of its ambit gaming activities that arguably involves skill).

53.2

Secondly, although the above case only dealt with the liability of the owner of the premises on the basis that cyber cafes that conduct such activities are common gaming houses because they were places which the “public has or may have access to”,59 then the individuals who visit such places as customers will also attract liability under ss 760 and 8(1) of the CGHA. 61

54

Additionally, the CGHA arguably also covers culpability of individuals who

manage online gaming websites locally. This is a slight variation from the above scenario since culpability can be ascribed even if the place at which the individual manages the website is not open to public access. This is due to the definition of “common gaming house” to include “any place kept for habitual gaming”.62 As long as “habitual gaming” can be proven, which is highly probable based on the frequency and duration required in managing a website, then the requirement for public access is dispensed with under the Act. As such, the individuals who manage online gaming websites locally can be held liable under the Act although clearly this form and method of operating gambling business was not envisioned when the Act was enacted, which

was at a time before the Internet was popularised.

58 59

[2009] SGDC 100.

Section 2 defines a common gaming house to include any place which the public “has or may have access” to.

60 61

Section 7 ascribes liability to any person who “games in a common gaming house”.

Section 8(1) empowers police officers to arrest without warrants any persons found gaming in a public place.

62

Section 2(1).

14

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