Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore
becoming increasingly computer and Internet literate and are increasingly comfortable conducting electronic transactions online including the use of electronic payment mechanisms. Minors are similarly early adopters of technology; and
other new interactive broadcasting services (broadband connection and third-generation networks) could soon provide new platforms for gambling. This will increase accessibility leading to increased problem gambling and associated social costs.
Overview of the Interactive Gambling Act (“IGA”)
The IGA makes it an offence to provide an interactive gambling service, if any
or all of the customers of the service are “physically present in Australia”. This is regardless whether the service provider is based in Australia or offshore and whether the provider is local or foreign owner. It is possible for the Government to widen the offence to prohibit Australian based interactive gambling services from being provided to customers in designated countries.133 The offence carries a maximum penalty of A$220,000 per day for individuals and A$1.1m per day for corporations. 134
A distinction is drawn between interactive gambling services and wagering
services. Interactive gambling services include online casino-style gaming services of chance or mixed chance and skill135 such as roulette, poker, craps, online poker machines and blackjack. Wagering services are generally not prohibited, unless the wagers were accepted online after a sporting event started. Among the list of services
excluded from the prohibition are:
telephone betting services;
wagering services, including betting on a horse race or sporting event,
where the bet is placed prior to the event starting;
133 134 135
IGA, s 9A. IGA, s 15.
In the Explanatory Memorandum to the IGA, it was stated that reference to a game of mixed chance and skill is not intended to “include games that would generally be regarded to be games of skill even though it could be argued that the outcome of the game might be affected by chance.” The example given was an online competition on knowledge of Australian history should be regarded as a game of skill even though it could be argued that there is an element of chance in relation to the questions that are asked. Similarly a network electronic game like “Quake”, a game for one or multiple players, should be regarded as a game of skill even though it could be argued that there is an element of chance in relation to game play. For example there are elements of chance in that a player will not be aware of what another player might do and yet may act in anticipation of what the other player might do.
IGA, s 5(3).