Following the announcement of proposed amendments to the Casino Control Act, Member of Parliament (MP) Mr. Ang Wei Neng asked if the government would encourage the integrated resorts (IRs) in Singapore to “do more social responsibility”. While it is sound for the administration to channel casino levies and taxes to social causes, expecting the casino resorts to do more for problem gamblers or low-income families – on the other hand – a remains an impossible ideal. It is pretty unrealistic to expect these casino operators to take further responsibility beyond the basic adherence to regulatory legislation, since their stakeholders simply aim to maximise profits.
Present measures introduced to curb problem gambling appear to be inadequate, because they are not the most sustainable or effective. At the current moment, alternatives to the casinos – in the form of sports betting, Internet sites, the lottery et cetera – are ubiquitous; problem gamblers – with increased accessibility and transportation in Singapore – would find it awfully straightforward to feed their addictions abroad; furthermore, increased consumerism has fuelled an overwhelming desire for individuals to seek their fortune through. Knee-jerk solutions will not do, and longer term strategies should have been taken into consideration years ago, especially if the government was cognisant of these potential complications.
Manage Casinos And Gambling Pragmatically Through Education
Perceptions and habits of gambling cannot be changed overnight; with existing counselling and intervention measures, education – on two dimensions – is the answer.
First, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has done a relatively good job to strengthen public education on problem gambling, and to raise awareness on the perils of gambling addiction. These initiatives – primarily centred on the presentation of assorted ills associated with excessive gambling – could impact older Singaporeans, who would be able to relate to the familial pressures, financial constraints, as well as the long-term ramifications.
However, therein lies the missing puzzle piece. Second, teaching-learning pedagogies on gambling and corresponding addiction should be customised for education institutions; this form of education should start from a young age. Problem gambling does not get sufficient air-time in schools, and we make the assumption that parents would necessarily do the job. Pedagogies in school should not be one that is premised upon a staunchly anti-gambling message; instead, there are several key themes that could be adopted:
– Understanding the idea of “gambling”
– Exploring the different reasons for gambling
– Deciding when the line is crossed for various individuals
– Evaluating “social” or recreational gambling, particularly during festivities
– Comprehending the relevant laws, as well as the different methods of legal and illegal gambling in Singapore
Schoolchildren should eventually have the capacities to decide what is best for themselves when it comes to gambling, following a series of activities, lessons and discussions. When educators are less didactic – euphemised by students as being “preachy” – their participants would then develop a more holistic evaluation of gambling and its characteristics.