Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore
operator of a cybercafe.74 Notably, this case involved actual physical premises and the presence of gamblers on site. This contrasts with the usual scenario of a sole gambler gambling from private premises like his home or office, interacting with an automatic agent or other individuals from remote locations, and through the use of an online gambling website operated from a remote location elsewhere and which therefore does not fall under Singapore jurisdiction.
One of the unique problems created by the Internet is that it lets individuals
gamble online from the comfort of their own homes or anywhere else, private or public. If one recognises that culpability can only be ascribed to an individual if the offending act takes place in a common gaming house, then one can immediately see the potential loophole in the CGHA, which may not cover the individual who does not commit the offending act in the conventional “common gaming house” as defined in by the CGHA. The problem thus centres mainly on the definition of “common gaming house” under
s 2 of the CGHA.
Section 2 of the CGHA defines “common gaming house” as including any place
“kept or used for gaming” to which the public has or may have access to, and any place
“kept for habitual gaming” whether or not the public has or may have access to.
Clearly, in the above scenario where an individual accesses online gaming
websites from the privacy of his home, the first definition of common gaming house will not apply since it will be quite impossible to argue that the individual’s home is a place where the public has or may have access to. Based on this definition, the
individual who engages in such activity from his home can thus escape liability.
Similarly, although the second definition of “common gaming houses”
dispenses with the requirement for public access, the requirement that the place must be “kept for habitual gaming” makes it equally, if not more difficult to ascribe liability to the individual. There are two potential hurdles to cross in this context, namely satisfying the condition that the user had engaged in “habitual gaming” and that his
home was “kept” for this purpose. Issues of what constitutes difficulty of proving it aside, it is difficult to also prove that “kept” for the purpose of habitual gaming.
“habitual gaming” and the the individual’s home was
Reading the statutes in context, it would appear that the word “kept for”
necessarily implies that the place had to serve a dominant or sole purpose of habitual gaming for an extended period of time. This is in contrast to the word “used” as included in the first definition that prescribes liability even for a one-time off
The accused was the sole proprietor of CB Cyber Cafe and he rented the premises at 38 Lorong 17 Geylang since 1 June 2008.The Internet cafe provided online casino gaming to customers. In the process of such operation, the accused even employed a cashier to man the counter and operate the online casino. See also, Ong Johnny v PP DAC 27993/2008.