Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore
occurrence.75 The fact that the drafter evidently omitted the word “used” in the second definition further indicates that there is a difference in the meaning of a place being “kept” and “used”, and that these terms ought not to be used interchangeably. As a result, in order to make an individual’s home qualify as a common gaming house under the second definition, one would have to prove that the individual not only engaged in habitual gaming, but that his home was kept for this sole or dominant purpose. It is an open question as to whether the individual who engages in recreational online gaming in his spare time would fall within s 7. Therefore, it is unclear how whether CGHA is adequate in dealing with individuals who access online gaming websites from private places.
The other issue is the definition of the “common gaming house” within the
CGHA, which is inadequate and ambiguous when confronted with the question of whether a virtual gaming house falls within the traditional definition of a common gaming house. It can be argued that when an individual accesses an online gaming website which caters to the general public, that person accesses a virtual common
gaming house and in doing so ought to be liable under the CGHA.
One possible interpretation turns on the definition of “place” under s 2 of the
CGHA. Under s 2 of the CGHA, a “common gaming house” is one which includes any place kept or used for gaming or habitual gaming, which the public has or may have access to, where “place” is defined to mean “any house … and any place or spot, whether open or enclosed …” In this instance, the question to consider is whether the general words “place or spot” can be extended to cover the virtual domain, such that accessing online gaming websites constitutes “gaming in a common gaming house” under s 7 of the CGHA. However, it is unclear whether the ambit of the CGHA extends to the virtual domain, which was clearly not within legislative contemplation due to the time when it was drafted. Apart from the awkwardness of describing the virtual domain as a “place or spot”, the application of the ejusdem generis rule would suggest that the term “place or spot” must be restricted to the same class as the preceding specific descriptors, all of which arguably belong to the physical realm.76 It is therefore unclear whether the ambit of the CGHA is limited to only the physical domain, even if the
more persuasive view is that it is so limited.
Another possible interpretation of the CGHA is that as a “common gaming
house” under s 2 of the CGHA is one that “includes any place kept …”, it presupposes that the list of definitions of a “common gaming house” is not exhaustive, and Parliament could have perhaps intended that wider interpretation would be applicable as technology progressed. The CGHA could therefore be extended to include a virtual common gaming house even though the legislation is silent on this matter. Also, a purposive interpretation as advocated under s 9A of the Interpretation Act (Cap 1) and
Section 2(2)(b) states that “a place shall be deemed to be used for a purpose if it is used for that purpose even on one occasion only”.
Section 2 states that a “place means any house, office, room or building and any place or spot … .