Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gambling... A form of drugs...

As I read the newspaper articles on retiring MP Mr Lim Boon Heng's tears in yesterday's press conference, I cannot help but think that he must have known someone or the friends/relatives of someone who was a gambling addict. Some people say that it was staged, some said I t was fake. I think it was real.

Groupthink... In the case of the casino is was bad if you do and even worse if you don't. Even more difficult when you were the labour chief as the casinos would have generated 35,000 jobs. (MM Lee was against the casinos and I respect him for that.) But for 35,000 jobs how many families will be broken because of the casinos?

The authorities in Singapore already have safeguards like family exclusions and entrance fees but you can never stop a diehard gambling addict. I have one case in my own family. The casinos weren't even open yet but he managed to lose probably tens of thousands by placing soccer bets, probably with underground bookies, of which a few thousand dollars of mine I never have the slightest hope of seeing again...

We can try to prevent the flow of drugs at the customs but how can you stop gambling? People gamble over all sorts of things from the fastest cockroaches to the color of the underpants. But with the casinos we actually have a place to identify frequent local visitors (like how countries with legalized drugs keep a register of all drug users) and conduct checks with their families. Exclusion orders shouldn't just come from the families, the government should also pro-actively identify and inform the family members because they may not know it until the loansharks come knocking.

End of the day it's all about self-control and one's personal traits. Having a local casino is like having many cans of beer on the table in front of you as opposed to putting them in the fridge. If you hate them you won't touch it. If you love them having them close to you means you will drink more and may eventually get drunk when you would have stayed sober if you had to get it from the fridge after every can. If you never tried it having it right in front of you it may just tempt you into taking a sip and turn you into a beer-lover. Yes it's become much more convenient to turn into a gambling addict...

I'm glad I don't have to be responsible for 35,000 jobs...


"Just Me" said...

I am in 2 mind about this really. How do people in other countries deal with this, like people in Macau/HK, people in Vegas, in other countries.

these city moves on with casino in their backyard. So it may not necessary be a bad thing for SG to have a casino. Other countries have porn movies etc and it doesnt really make the country more unsafe and filled with sex craze lunatics causing a social problem for the rest. I just think people blasting the govt is giving too little credit on the other self controlling citizens.

Let's put it this way. I know of one parent who was addictive gambler and basically blew every penny away, and it was like from richness to rag nitemare. So the other parent and kids had to start from scratch from toiling from 5am to 12-1am working in a small food stall.

The end result, None of the kids followed the gambler footsteps. But neither did the kid wish the gambler dead. Life goes on. Pick up yourself and move on and focus on life bright bit. The buck stops there. At least No one else in the family gambled because there was a shining example.

So perhaps the next generation will take caution from this first generation exposed to the pitfalls and the country will recover from the negative exposure. Even in IT work, we know a newly built system will never pass with flying colours without failing on first test run. We just have to keep fine tuninng it till the kinks are removed.

Casino is like a sword with 2 edge sword. It works both ways depending on the people holding it. If we are worried of something and ban it without giving it a chance to grow, then we might as well ban cars for there are idiotic drivers and accident kills, or ban alcohol for there are alcoholics who goes crazy, or ban all snacks because the tran fats are cancerous.

To me.
Some people will never be tempted. Some weaker will people who greeds on more money will always come up with something to gamble with.

Odatafan said...

There's an angle that shouldn't be forgotten here: bets in a casino are linked to investments as well as consumption spending, because a person who spends a thousand coin probably gets a free drink and surely gets a chance of winning money which could then be invested. Simple economics arguments show that short-term gambling can be rational. Milton Friedman wrote that gambling the way the poor do it, and with their motivations, is rational. Maybe there is some paradox in this, or maybe long-term gambling reduces the rate of return to the point where no one can gamble.

Addictive gambling is an individual problem with negative externalities, and yet it is hard to fight it the way you would fight pollution. The gambler is gambling with money in which his family have an interest -- they will all eat from it; perhaps a spouse has earned it. And yet at the moment of the gamble, the law asks only whether the gambler has the right to make this decision, or not. If the gambler's spouse complains early... does anyone have the right to stop the gambler? We need some way to put *some* pressure on a gambler, without stripping the gambler of rights completely.

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