What Qualifies as Illegal Gambling Activities in Singapore?

Singapore is home to one of the best luxurious and top-tier casinos in all of Asia – attracting gamblers and tourists worldwide. The country is known to have one of the world’s best banking capitals, ensuring that high stakes are risked daily, with many high-rollers who come and go as they please regularly.

All forms of gambling in Singapore, whether public or online, are tightly regulated under strict laws to maintain law and order and minimize potential harm to society. Gambling activities are only legal if done through an exempt and licensed operator.

People should be mindful of where to draw the line between legal gambling activities to those that are considered illegal.

When is gambling legal in Singapore?

Common Houses Gambling Act (CHGA), Betting Act, Remote Gambling Act, Private Lotteries Act, and the Casino Control Act are included in the gambling-related legislation covering all aspects of gambling.

Under the CHGA, “gaming” refers to any games that involve the element of chance and skill, where players are allowed to gain money. Playing games under to which considered as “gaming” in a “common gaming house” is an offense under the CGHA “common gaming house.”

Playing games of chance at home with family, friends, and acquaintances is not considered illegal unless the venue is turned into a place solely for gambling.

Therefore, gambling activities become illegal if the gambling venue is considered a common gaming house. Any place used for gaming, regardless if the public has access to it or not, is a direct violation of the act. Failure to conform can result in liability for fines and jail time.

Gambling in Public

Gambling in public means gaming is where the public has access and places where ten or more persons are employed. Engaging in such gambling activities in places in question is illegal. An example would be gambling at a funeral held in a public place.

Even if a funeral is held in private, it will still be considered illegal should the place constitutes a common gaming house. People found guilty are punishable for imprisonment and will liable for a fine.

Private Gambling

Under the CGHA “common gaming house,” it would be a violation of the act if the premises are not open to the members of the public and are used as a place for gambling. However, it is arguable if people are caught playing games with family and friends even in their homes’ privacy since no unknown parties are involved.

Playing with Jackpot Machines

The Private Lotteries Act regulates lotteries conducted in private locations, and per the act, jackpot machines are banned unless permission is granted or the casino is licensed. Accordingly, jackpot gambling falls under what is considered “gaming” in the CGHA; it is illegal to engage in jackpot gambling in public or a common gaming house except if the jackpot machine is located in a casino or club with permission to operate the machine.

Betting with Bookmakers

The Betting Act regulates common betting-houses both in public locations and bookmakers. In accordance with the act, people who bet and place wagers with a private bookmaker regardless of the place and means are subjected to punishment. However, other operators are granted exemption certificates, and gambling activities are only legal through an exempt operator. In Singapore, people can only bet with the Singapore Turf Club, Singapore Pools, and other exempted bookmakers.

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