Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore
that promotes the purpose and the objective of the CGHA to curb illegal common gaming areas, would mean extending the ambit of the CGHA to cover the virtual domain. 77
As can be seen, these are two equally plausible interpretations of the CGHA
with diametrically opposing results, reflecting the inadequacy of the CGHA in such ambiguity. In particular, it is unclear whether individuals who access and participate in online gaming sites have run afoul of the CGHA. A simple amendment to include virtual common gaming houses in the definition (if indeed this is the intention) would
resolve this inadequacy.
Furthermore, because the CGHA does not apply to and cannot affect the
operation of foreign gambling websites, in the absence of express language to prohibit the patronage of such websites, the latter can continue to target and attract Singaporean gamblers to their websites without either party facing any consequences under the
Over-inclusiveness of the legislation
There are also ambiguities on what constitutes “gaming” and the activities
covered by the CGHA, given the swath of gaming activities that have emerged online as examined in Section I. These gaming activities which have arisen after the enactment of the CGHA, can be caught under the CGHA in view of the wide definition of “gaming”, even though they are games of skill or predominantly of skill. These games may involve money or money’s worth.
Conclusion and comments
The existing laws were evidently formulated with social concerns in mind, as
perceived at the time of their formulation. With the changes and update in policy that Singapore has taken with the Integrated Resorts (“IRs”) and the focus on economic and financial interest taking the forefront with social concerns, it is foreseeable that we will have to consider the impact and implications of online gambling on Singapore with a view to developing consistent and clear policy and laws on how to deal with this new “economy” in a manner that is in line with those objectives. In particular, the challenges posed by transnational gambling and gamblers as well as the participation of financial intermediaries also requires a thorough examination before deciding on the best course to take, even in relation to something as basic as whether to update the
This is premised on the argument that these online gaming websites are common gambling areas because the public has or may have access to it and it is used for the sole purpose of gambling.
This is a very real possibility, given how research has shown that the average Singaporean spends US$940 a year, three times as much as the average American. See Wayne Arnold, “The Nanny State Places a Bet”, The New York Times (23 May 2006), available at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/23/business/ worldbusiness/23casino.html.