“Working with employers of foreign workers to encourage them to apply for self-exclusion orders even before they enter Singapore and monitoring casino advertisements to ensure they do not glamorise gambling” (New Measures To Curb Gambling, Miss Carolyn Quek).
The Parliament report “New Measures To Curb Gambling” (October 22, 2011) by Miss Carolyn Quek: Acting Minister Chan Chun Sing expounded on a number of present strategies administered by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) – as well as the corresponding National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) – to curb problem gambling and its negative effects in Singapore. Although current measures might appear to be adequate at the moment, the agencies responsible have failed to recognise the limitations of the recommendations to monitor advertisements and expand exclusions, implement awareness campaigns through the education system, or to review existing services to make them more holistic and applicable.
Inadequacy Of Present Strategies
Following the opening of the local casinos, the policy of family, third-party and self or voluntary exclusion per se has been heavily relied upon to prevent individuals who are already addicted from indulging in bets in Singapore; for instance, in the casinos, jackpot rooms, the Singapore Turf Club et cetera. Therefore, given the many challenges and complications in the actual management of the programme – from updating the lists to the involvement of security forces – a study should be commissioned to evaluate its overall effectiveness, and make amendments if necessary.
Commentaries from other countries using these forms of exclusion have explained its disadvantages: serious pathological and problem gamblers may head overseas or to cruises to address their gambling needs, and might even turn to illegal institutions to counter the enforced repression. If the urges are left to manifest without a structured counselling pedagogy in place, exclusion could potentially aggravate the condition.
In addition, the new proposal to monitor casino advertisements will be of little consequence, given that the primary aim for private casinos and their operators is to maximise profits; unsurprisingly, the consideration for gambling’s ramifications or attention on social responsibility would take a back-seat. It is therefore imperative for therapy or recovery organisations and frameworks to be strengthened, families to be more cognisant of help-lines and services, and coordinated information campaigns from young.
Strengthening Frameworks, Heightening Public Awareness
Along with the review of the exclusion policy, MCYS and NCPG should relook its existing services for such gambling problems – especially with the reported proliferation of the situation – and strengthen them accordingly. Additional manpower and resources should be committed wherever possible. Most importantly, for the rehabilitation process to be more sustainable, families should participate more proactively as partners.
Another aspect that has been conveniently overlooked is the importance of discoursing on the subject of gambling and its perceptions in schools; rather than dismissing it in its entirety from the get-go, incorporation of the issue in the moral education syllabus would allow students and educators to fairly evaluate it. The former would have the appropriate knowledge to know where to draw the line, and simultaneously comprehend the concept of risk-taking. These forms of public awareness – built up over a substantial period of time – will extend to households, and activities such as stock market investments.
Prevention is better than cure; if stakeholders choose to relish in the comforts of the status quo, problems might complicate in the long run.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.