Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore
From this assessment, it is possible to see how the CGHA may be adequate to
regulate online gaming to a significant extent, at least relating to the existing notions of gambling activities currently enforced against its physical equivalent. However, there
are some problems with coverage that will be examined below.
Betting Act (Cap 21) (“BA”)
The BA governs betting and wagering activities. Generally speaking, this Act
makes it an offence to operate or be involved in common betting house or betting information centre, and to publish information relating to any horse race or sporting event for the purpose of illegal betting. Like the CGHA, customers of such place or activities are also caught under its criminal provisions. Also similar to the CGHA, the BA permits exemptions, and the Tote Board and the Singapore Pools have been exempted from it.
The two pieces of legislation deal with different types of gambling. The CGHA
63 deals more with “games of mixed chance and skill for money or money’s worth” which is reflective more of casino-style gambling while the BA deals with “bets or wagering on any event or contingency of or relating to any horse race or other sporting event”64 which is reflective more of sports-type betting. This distinction is important because it differentiates the culpability of individuals who engage in online casino-type
gambling as opposed to those who engage in online betting or wagering.
After analysing both pieces of legislation, some key observations can be made:
In general, the current legal framework in Singapore adopts a prohibitive stance towards online gambling; the BA’s prohibitive stance is more clearly discernible than the CGHA because of its inherently broader phrasing; and both Acts contain inadequacies in dealing with certain issues unique to the phenomenon of online gambling.
Private Lotteries Act (Cap 250) (“PLA”)
The PLA regulates “private” lotteries. These are lotteries which are confined to
members of a society established and conducted for purposes not connected with gaming, wagering or lotteries, and covers, for example, jackpot machines in private social and country clubs that operates these machines for its member’s recreational enjoyment while utilising its proceeds for club management and funds. Such lotteries are prohibited, except as permitted by the Commissioner of Estate Duties. The Act sets out the applicable conditions for such permits.
Section 2(1) defines gaming: Gaming “with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, means the playing of any game of chance or of mixed chance and skill for money or money’s worth.”