Despite the decrease in casino levies which indicates that gambling may have lost its appeal for many Singaporeans, more and more people are seeking help for their gambling problems, this notwithstanding the dwindling number of Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) who visit the casinos of the two integrated resorts which opened and launched its operations in 2010.
According to data culled from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), 967 people were given counselling – the highest number since 2014 when 1,035 people were provided with this service.
Counselling specialists were of the opinion that more people could still be in trouble owing to debts incurred from other gambling venues such as online gambling platforms.
Why do Singaporeans gamble a lot?
In 2003, a survey was carried out by the Ngee Ann Polytechnic where it was disclosed that two-thirds of Singaporeans between the ages of 40 and 59 did not believe that they had enough savings for retirement and that approximately 40% were counting on their winnings from Toto and 4-D to make up their retirement funds. Another study done in 2010 showed that people gamble because they have more free time and disposable income.
For many people who engage in gambling, the adrenaline rush of winning a huge amount of money is all that it takes for them to place bets.
A published study by the University of Exeter and Swansea University in the United Kingdom revealed that gamblers respond almost as positively to a near win as when they actually hit the jackpot.
With the rising costs of living, as well as the availability of mobile internet gambling, it is not surprising that getting hooked on gambling is a skyrocketing trend in Singaporean society.
Is it worth the gamble?
Singapore’s speculative venture in putting up casinos, including the tolerance it gives to online gambling platforms, may have been economically beneficial to the country, however, the effect these places have on people is not that constructive.
As huge corporation executives and big businesses rake in gargantuan profits, Singaporeans (as their customers and their families) especially those who do not really have the means, suffer from depression and lack of money. The frequent visits to casinos feed the addiction to gambling, resulting in harsh outcomes for uncontrollable gamblers, including their families.
In instances where gamblers become jobless or are confronted with colossal financial despair because of their debts, they are usually tempted to resolve their problems using criminal methods.
Or when they try to borrow money from relatives and friends, their relationships with these people are then jeopardised because in so many instances, the debt could not be paid.
Often these gamblers families pay the price as their wives are forced to find jobs outside the home, working long hours and sacrificing their care giving duties.
Despite the existence of the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, there are still many gambling addicts and their families remain hesitant or unwilling to seek help due to the disgrace and feelings of shame attached to the said addiction.
For some, the hopelessness and emotional distress they feel, push them into taking desperate measures to end it all with one careless act, suicide.
The harmful societal effects of gambling are indisputable, yet the economic gains created by the existence of casinos and other gambling places are too enticing for the government to resist.
While these casinos and online gambling venues may be significant contributors to the nation’s treasury, is Singapore really prepared to bet on Singaporeans’ lives, well-being, and future?
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