SINGAPORE: The proportion of people in Singapore who gambled last year has gone up from three years ago, reversing a decline over the last decade, according to a survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
More than half or 52 per cent of Singapore residents aged 18 and above participated in at least one form of gambling activity in the last year, up eight percentage points from 44 per cent in 2014, the survey found.
This was primarily due to an increase in gambling among the Chinese population and in those buying 4D, Toto and engaging in social gambling, said NCPG, although it added the figure has remained relatively stable over the last 12 years since its first survey in 2005.
Gambling participation rate was 58 per cent in 2005; 54 per cent in 2008 and 47 per cent in 2011.
The surveys are done every three years and involve a sample size of 3,000. A “gambler” is defined as someone who has participated in at least one form of the activity in the last 12 months.
The NCPG said it has expanded the number of physical help centres in Singapore from two to six in the last two years, while a new phone and Internet-based counselling service was introduced last July.
However, the number of calls and webchats to the National Problem Gambling Helpline dropped to a five-year low of 19,628, down from the high of 23,994 in 2014.
NCPG said the percentage of all gamblers with poor self-control decreased from 6.2 in 2014 to 3.9 in 2017. This dip applied across the board for all activities - except horse racing, which saw an increase from 14.3 to 20.7 per cent. “Self-control” was assessed by questions on whether gamblers had gambled more than they had planned to.
Said NCPG chairman Tan Kian Hoon: “With World Cup 2018 coming up, the NCPG would also be stepping up our public education efforts ... (and) will also continue to improve the accessibility of help services.”
The NCPG was first formed in 2005 - after the Government's hotly-debated move to legalise and build casinos in Marina Bay and Sentosa. The two integrated resorts started operations in 2010.
In a comparison of international gambling participation, Singapore's 52 per cent rate was lower than Hong Kong's 61.5 per cent but above Macau (51.5) and the UK (48).
When it came to probable pathological and problem gambling, Singapore’s rate of 0.9 per cent in 2017 was lower than Hong Kong (1.4) and Macau (2.5) but above the UK (0.7). These three other countries conducted their studies in 2016.