What Exactly Is Gambling?
The term “gambling” is described broadly in the Remote Gambling Act (RGA) to include betting, gaming, and lottery participation.
The RGA describes “betting” as “the wagering of money or its equivalent on the outcome of a horse race or sporting event.”
The Common Gaming Houses Act (CGHA) defines “gaming” as any game with a chance element, or a combination of chance and ability, in which players can win money or money’s worth of prizes.
The CGHA does not apply to games that do not involve money (for example, a simple mahjong game between friends with no cash involved).
The CGHA also regulates public lotteries, which are classified as a lottery that is open to the general public or some class of the general public. A “lottery” is characterized as any game, scheme, or competition in which money or money’s worth is distributed solely by chance, whether the lottery is held or controlled in Singapore or elsewhere.
When is gambling legal in Singapore?
The CGHA makes it illegal to gamble in a “common gaming house.” Whether or not the public has access to it, any place held or used for gaming, habitual gaming, or public lottery is referred to as a “popular gaming house.” If the gambling behaviour in question crosses the line into an illegal act is therefore determined by whether the gambling venue is held as a common gaming house or as a gaming venue.
Gambling in private
Although the CGHA does not define private gambling, it is commonly defined as gambling in a location where the general public does not have access (e.g. at home).
Private gambling is illegal if the location where it is done is set up expressly for habitual gaming as a traditional gaming house.
Anyone found guilty of gaming in a popular gaming house faces a fine of up to $5,000, or a sentence of up to 6 months in jail, or both.
In public gambling
Gambling in public refers to gambling in a public place that is open to the public and involves any establishment of ten or more employees.
Gambling in a public place is prohibited. Gambling at a funeral held in a void deck, for example, may be illegal since the void deck is a public space.
Gambling can be illegal if the funeral is held in a private location (e.g., a rented venue for events) that is not open to the public. The private location does not constitute a typical gaming house (as mentioned above).
Anyone found guilty of gaming in a public place faces a fine of up to $5,000, or a sentence of up to 6 months in jail, or both. Their gaming equipment could be confiscated and forfeited as well.
Using bookmakers to place bets
The Betting Act regulates the practices of bookmakers. A bookmaker is described as someone who accepts or negotiates bets or wagers on a cash or credit basis in return for money or money’s worth under the Betting Act.
Anyone who bets or wagers with a private bookmaker (also known as a “bookie”) in any location or by any means is breaking the law. Offenders will face a fine of up to $5,000, or a period of incarceration of up to 6 months, or both.
Betting with exempted bookmakers such as Singapore Pools, Tote Board, and approved casinos, on the other hand, would not be illegal.
Playing with slot machines.
Since jackpot gambling comes under the CGHA’s concept of “gaming,” participating in jackpot gambling in a popular gaming house or public is illegal unless the jackpot machine is located in a club authorized to operate the machine.
Is there a Legal Gambling Minimum Age in Singapore?
The legal gambling age in Singapore varies depending on the location of the gambling operation. There is no universal minimum age for all gambling activities.
In general, to gamble in Singapore, you must be at least 18 years old.