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Musings, The Straits Times

MP Ang Wei Neng Is Wrong: Manage Casinos And Gambling Pragmatically Through Education

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.

Perceptions and habits of gambling cannot be changed overnight; with existing counselling and intervention measures, education – on two dimensions – is the answer.

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.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


4 thoughts on “MP Ang Wei Neng Is Wrong: Manage Casinos And Gambling Pragmatically Through Education

  1. You may be interested to know that I have been calling the government to channel more funds to roll out more measures to curb gambling ills. At the same time, I am also calling the two IRs to do more CSR, such as helping lower income families who have been affected by gambling ills, helping the disabled, etc.

    I have also indicated that the former is more plausible but I do not want the IRs to shine away from any CSR.


    Ang Wei Neng

    Posted by Ang Wei Neng | July 19, 2012, 9:14 am
    • Thank you for the reply. I have two quick follow-ups though:

      1. Channelling more funds is one thing; being specific about the recommendations and proposals is another. In my own commentary, I am simply emphasising the importance of education – particularly for the young – in a more engaging and meaningful manner.

      2. I think encouraging the casinos do engage in more CSR is well-intentioned, but ultimately unrealistic. Unlike traditional corporations in which corporate responsibility has gained traction, demand for gambling is generally inelastic, so the gambling operators in Singapore have little incentive to go beyond the notion of profit maximisation. They won’t reject CSR outright, but neither would it be in their interests to focus excessively upon it.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | July 19, 2012, 1:15 pm
      • I agreed with you that part of the program to contain gambling ills could be done through more education, counseling, etc., and that needs funding. That is what I am advocating.

        I also thank you for agreeing that IRs need to do CSR, though the impact might be limited in your view.

        It appears that there are convergence of views. Thus, your title appears misleading.

        Thank you.

        Ang Wei Neng

        Posted by Ang Wei Neng | July 20, 2012, 12:03 am
      • That is incorrect. My stand is that CSR is still unrealistic (both in the post and comment), and shouldn’t be pursued by the government. Even if the casino operators do choose to do so, it is highly unlikely that they would do so for the welfare of the people, since it is not in their interests to do so.

        You could argue that CSR and the government strengthening education policies are not mutually exclusive notions; however, the pursuit of the former by policy makers – as advocated by you – is not necessary.

        Jin Yao

        Posted by guanyinmiao | July 20, 2012, 8:58 am

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