Channel NewsAsia

S'poreans can apply to be excluded from non-casino gambling venues

Singaporeans can now apply to voluntarily exclude themselves from selected non-casino gambling venues.

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans can now apply to voluntarily exclude themselves from selected non-casino gambling venues, following the launch of a centralised self-exclusion system.

Currently, self-exclusion is only applied to Singapore's two casinos. This is when a problem gambler applies to have himself barred from entry.

So far, there have been more than 200,500 exclusion orders issued for Singapore's two casinos. Of this, more than 153,000 are self-exclusion orders.

Non-casino gambling venues like jackpot clubs and sports betting clubs run their own systems.

The idea is that a centralised system will make it more accessible and convenient for individuals to exclude themselves from multiple venues, at one go.

All they need to do is to apply online, using their SingPass.

For now, 21 of the 73 non-casino operators will participate in the initiative.

Twelve operators will offer the self-exclusion option as of Monday, while the other nine will offer it from August.

More operators will come on board by the end of the year.

For two of the bigger private operators -- Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club -- the self-exclusion only applies to phone betting.

“Self-exclusion cannot cover everything,” said Tan Soo Nan, chief executive of Singapore Pools.

“For those who walk into the shop, it is difficult to put this into operation. So in our case, the exclusion is only for the account betters.

“But... those who bet cash... don't have continuous betting because there are a lot of breaks. Research has shown that if there are a lot of breaks in your gambling product, the risk of problem gambling is much lower.

“Not all gambling products have the same propensity of risk because if you buy a game and wait one month, there's a long break, whereas for some games, you go continuously.

"And because you bet continuously, there's always that risk that you develop habits. It is the habit that creates the potential problem gambling."

Still, Mr Tan, who is also co-chair of the Responsible Gambling Forum, which is made up of representatives from the community and gambling industry, said industry players are looking at the possibility of third party exclusion, though he added it will be a "complicated process".

It is hoped that more non-casino gambling operators will eventually come on board.

"The fact that they are all here implies that they all have an interest to learn more and my own view is that over time, more and more will come and say this is not optional,” said Mr Tan.

“It is something in (their) own long-term interest to have because it is something that is strategically important. So in my view, it's only a matter of time before they all come on board."

It seems a little ironic that a forum on responsible gambling is held here at Marina Bay Sands, the location for one of two of Singapore's casinos.

However, it also speaks of the kind of partnership between industry players -- like gambling operators and the community like voluntary welfare groups -- to come together on an open platform to talk about issues on problem gambling.

"We know that there are still many challenges ahead and if we are to compare ourselves to what other countries have achieved, we have but taken the first baby step in a long journey,” said Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing.

“But I'm sure and confident that we will continue to do this and we will achieve much more for the community, so long as we continue to work together." 

To complement the latest initiative, casino operator Resorts World Sentosa has volunteered to develop and run a customised Responsible Gambling training curriculum for staff of private lottery clubs.

"Most do not have formalised training so that's where we come in, so we have a more consistent approach in terms of delivery, in terms of course content," said Seah-Khoo Ee Boon, senior vice-president of compliance at Resorts World Sentosa.

Resorts World Sentosa expects to roll out the training programme to about 10 operators in June.

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna