I refer to “As casino exclusion orders rise, families urged to watch out for gambling addiction”. CNA For the government mouthpiece to sound the alarm, there must be more to the problem than meets the eye.
According to Pastor Billy who has helped hundreds of gambling addicts, “problem gambling increases mainly for two reasons – easy accessibility to gaming sites and easy credit…. We have these two in Singapore”. For easy accessibility, Billy points his finger at “Singapore Pools retailers all over the island”. Although the 2 casinos are also easily accessible, Billy seems OK with them as he thinks the government has put in sufficient safeguards.
The government says it is against gambling but the reality is it has been encouraging gambling because it is a 100% pow chiak government-linked business. Singapore Pools contributes about $2 billion annually to the government in the form of taxes and duties, excluding profits. The total of all gambling revenues earned by the government is easily in excess of $5 billion.
Singapore Pools (SP) and Singapore Turf Club (STC) – both government owned – are now the only two entities allowed to conduct online betting; all other sites are deemed illegal.
Billy: “A new gambler will not go to an illegal online gambling site on his own” … “But when Singapore Pools and Tote Board come into play, they are well-regulated and players don’t see any risks involved. Once the safe limits on the legal sites are reached, some players may move on to illegal sites, because they are hooked.”
In a politically incorrect way of putting Billy’s words, new gamblers start off with legal sites – SP and STC – and some of these gamblers subsequently move on to illegal gambling websites after getting hooked.
Although the pastor has blamed the government for problem gambling due to recently-legalised online betting, he praises the government for having “successfully mitigated problem gambling stemming from the two casinos” at the same time.
But Billy’s statement appears to be contradicted by statistics. From June 2010 to September this year, the number of casino self exclusion orders increased from 1546 to 20866, an increase of 1350% over 6 years. Has problem gambling been mitigated? Are there tens of thousands of gamblers who have not requested for self exclusion orders, within easy reach of the 2 casinos?
Billy has also contradicted Minister Tan Chuan Jin who told Parliament last year that problem gambling had increased by 60%.
If gambling addiction was already a problem before the introduction of 2 casinos, how could problem gambling not worsen when there are more avenues to feed gamblers’ addiction?
For someone who has helped hundreds of gambling addicts, many facing marital problems and some even suicidal, why does Billy praise the government for introducing safeguards and regulations but not voice his objection to the 2 casinos?
Is he not aware that these “safeguards and regulations” are in response to a problem created by the government?