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Singapore

Stakeholders welcome problem-gambling safeguards

Stakeholders Channel NewsAsia spoke to welcomed additional safeguards to protect vulnerable Singaporeans from gambling addiction.

SINGAPORE: Stakeholders Channel NewsAsia spoke to welcomed additional safeguards to protect vulnerable Singaporeans from gambling addiction.

They said proposed measures, like the casino visit limit, can be useful tools in curbing the problem.

However, they said the issue goes beyond merely changing the law.

Raymond Cai hits the casinos once every three months. The 28-year-old sales executive said he's able to stem his losses, so controlling the gambling urge isn't a problem.

Mr Cai earns about S$3,000 monthly, and estimates he's lost close to S$2,000 to gaming.

Having seen others who've lost more, the Singaporean approves of proposed measures to limit casino visits.

"That will actually help the lower-income people who love to gamble. But those who are earning more, maybe they have more to spend, so how are they going to cater to that particular group?" he said.

Seah Kian Peng, chairman, Government Parliamentary Committee, Community Development, Youth & Sports, said: "There are two issues, one about visitation and frequency. That is important, but I think that another dimension is the intensity, the amounts that are being churned out with each visit. I think that also needs some looking at."

Observers note that community groups, families, and organisations dealing with gambling addicts play a key role in supplementing any new social safeguards.

Promises Healthcare, as an addictions consulting firm, typically sees one new case of problem gambling every month. About 80 per cent of those who seek treatment are Singaporeans.

Dr Munidasa Winslow, senior consultant psychiatrist, Promises Healthcare, said: "There is a saying in addiction treatment that you're only as sick as your secrets. In treatment, you should not be too fast to forgive... You should actually get that vulnerable individual or the person who has racked up those debts to be evaluated."

In a recent survey, those deemed to be at risk of being unable to resist the gambling impulse stood at 1.4 per cent, or about 40,600 of Singapore's total adult population.

Singapore's two casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands also weighed in on the proposed additional safeguards to tackle gambling addiction.

Resorts World Sentosa said it's committed to run its business responsibly, and supports the government's aim to protect financially vulnerable persons.

It added that it will continue to work closely with various agencies on implementing responsible gambling measures that are feasible and effective.

Marina Bay Sands also added that as a responsible gaming operator, it's committed to working effectively with all stakeholders in this process.

It added that the public consultation on proposed amendments to the Casino Control Act provides a meaningful opportunity for all to provide constructive feedback.

Source: CNA/cc

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