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With exemptions to ban on online gambling Government has opened a Pandora’s box

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By: Michael Han

The candid meeting took place. The religious authorities of the land have registered their collective concerns. The government has taken note of them and explained their position. And online gambling exemptions will still be granted on Oct 25 and Nov 15 for Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club respectively.

It reports, “The Government acknowledges the council’s deep concern about the negative social consequences of legalising two remote gambling platforms, and will regularly monitor the overall impact.”

This is what regular monitor translates into. The government will set up a task force to explore ways to strengthen the family and Singapore’s social fabric, and publish tract on gambling for all churches as teaching materials to warn and educate the church members. The government will also monitor closely the situation of online gambling and “provide feedback to authorities with the aid of its member churches.”

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It was a judgment call and the NCCS (National Council of Churches of Singapore) said that “given the data on the current remote gambling landscape, the Government deems this to be the best approach to mitigate driving remote gambling activities underground and exacerbating law and order concerns.”

Undeniably, this is a positive sign. Our democracy is a robust one. Our government listens (well, to some extent). And our religious organization cares.

Unlike Adam Lambert’s or Madonna’s concerts, this issue will have a wide, lasting and deep impact on society, families and individuals, especially the young. Some religious circles will even tell you that gambling is a spirit, addiction is an oppression, and the destruction of a family unit due to this unmitigated addiction is a tragedy.

Lesson? I guess the government has opened up one of society’s Pandora’s boxes, but nevertheless, it is a “conclusion based on its assessment of possible scenarios.” According to the government, a complete ban would be impractical, unworkable and administratively frustrating.

The NCCS has its own conclusion too. It reports that “the council added that it still has its reservations about this (govt) conclusion, arguing that the family and social fabric of Singapore is “currently not strong enough” to provide the safeguards against problem gambling.”

I tend to agree with NCCS. Our social fabric has been bombarded lately by many adverse cultures. First was the aggressive credit card marketing culture. Second came the consumerist and mass consumption culture. Third came the Marina Bay Sands and its open gambling culture. And now, we are taking it to a virtual world culture of online gambling; monitored and restricted notwithstanding.

Our social fabric and family can only take so much. She is like a lone tired child fighting and fending off a perfect addiction storm that aims to entice, entrap and enslave.

I hope our government is right about mitigating its adverse effect. They know best right?

Here I am reminded of the Greek mythology Medusa. She is a winged human female with a hideous face and venomous snakes for hair. Her beauty is an entrapment and her beholder will be turned to stone by a direct glance.

So in comes Perseus, the hero of the day. His strategy is to use the reflector in his shield to avoid direct eye contact with Medusa. He beheaded her eventually and uses her head as a weapon against other forces of evil.

By way of an analogy, Medusa represents this unwieldy online gambling exemption our government has granted to two local operators and our government is the hero of the day, Perseus, who has this unenviable task of slaying the beast of his own creation with the aid of a shield reflector.

My only concern here is this: Not everyone in society, that is, the desperate fathers, the addicted mothers, the innocent teens, the deluded poor and the struggling majority can resist taking that first direct glance at the hideous face of Medusa.

Alas, as the government makes their judgement call, the family risks a certain fall.


Republished from Michael Han’s Facebook.

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