WOULD THE AUTHORITIES focus on solving current problems first instead of introduce more problems with a casino? Or have we become too addicted to money?
Finally, some reports on the gambling problems in Singapore in The Straits Times. They confirm what i've found on the Internet and more. An extract from several reports today by Glenys Sim and Susan Long:
"...According to gambling addiction counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists here, gambling used to be mostly a middle-aged, blue-collar problem here.
"But increasingly, those running into trouble are in their 30s to 40s, come from comfortable middle-class backgrounds, have tertiary education and are typically in 'picture-perfect', white-collar jobs in banking, IT or the civil service.
"...Several psychiatric clinics here say they do a 'roaring business' during betting seasons like the Euro and World Cups, when droves of inveterate gamblers usually surface for help. Typically, they suffer effects like depression, sleeplessness, panic attacks, marital problems, drug or alcohol addiction.
The Chinese vice
"...Overwhelmingly, counsellors and psychiatrists echo what Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew noted at the BusinessWeek CEO dialogue on Thursday, that the Chinese are 'congenital gamblers'.
"...But the downside of such widespread cultural acceptance, says Dr Yeo, is that when gambling escalates into addiction, it is still seen as a habit, past-time or, at worst, indulgence. 'It is not seen as a problem. Unlike drugs or smoking or drinking too much, where the withdrawal signs are obvious, gambling can be hidden quite well if you have the means or people to borrow from,' he notes.
"...Citing 2002 figures, Dr Ricardo Siu, an assistant professor of economics and international finance at the University of Macau, notes that 95 per cent of total gaming revenue in Macau casinos comes from table games, compared with only 30 per cent in Las Vegas casinos.
"The Chinese prefer to pit themselves against fellow players, rather than machines, he observes. This gives them the 'illusion of control' over what would otherwise seem to be 'just a random outcome'.
"...Gaming experts observe that as a general rule, ethnic-Chinese gamblers place higher bets. For example, the average wager on a blackjack table in Las Vegas, where less than 10 per cent of players are estimated to be Asian, is about US$30. But in Macau, where more than 90 per cent of the players are Asian, the average wager is US$100.
The Invisible Problem
"...According to Mr Adrian Lau, a psychologist from Mount Elizabeth-Charter Behavioural Health Services, there are no outward signs - unlike for drug or alcohol addicts - until it is too late.
" 'Gamblers do not hide needles or tin foil or smell different. When gamblers need to borrow money, they give a very different reason for needing the money,' he says.
"...pathological gamblers seldom seek help or think they have a problem to begin with....Once addicted, the most important thing on their mind is to win back previous losses, notes Mr Lau."
Infamous Singaporean high-rollers and how they were found out
"Ang Xiao Yun, 31:
"She had to support a gambling habit, a jobless husband, two children, an elderly mother and two brothers, as well as to pay off hefty medical bills.
"Buckling under the pressure, the former group finance manager of Gaelic Inns, which manages Irish pubs Penny Black and Muddy Murphy's, pilfered more than $1 million from her company over two years.
"Eventually, an administrative officer spotted accounts discrepancies and the police were called. When she was arrested, the police recovered only $12,000 from her.
"She was sentenced to six years in jail in September. "
"William Ng Wee Lip, 38:
"After going through a painful divorce in 1994, Ng, assistant vice-president at Citibank, began gambling to distract himself. It soon grew into an addiction and he siphoned off $4.8 million from internal bank accounts.
"On the pretext of helping his subordinates with their work after office hours, he got them to reveal their passwords. This way, he successfully made 104 transfers into his own account, a joint account he held with his wife, his sister's account and the accounts of two colleagues.
"He was found out in December last year and jailed for 11 years and eight months in September."
"Chia Teck Leng, 44:
"He started out with $200 wagers but before long, he was punting A$400,000 (S$510,000) at a go. In Singapore's biggest corporate fraud case, the finance manager of Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) swindled banks of $117 million over four years.
"He faked documents to get four foreign banks to extend him credit, claiming he was acting for his company, then forged the signatures of APB directors.
"By the time he was caught in September last year, he had blown more than $62 million in casinos worldwide. In April, he was sentenced to 42 years' jail, the longest jail term ever meted out for a commercial crime."
"Tan Cheng Yew, 36:
"Professionally, the respected lawyer and former partner at TanJinHwee Eunice and Lim Choo Eng was a quiet man who seemed to display all the right values. But unbeknown to others, he chalked up debts of more than A$1 million (S$1.28 million) at casinos in Australia.
"He used the cheque-cashing facility of these casinos, where patrons are granted a gambling chip voucher in return for cheques, to acquire more than A$1 million of gambling chips but lost the lot. When the casinos tried to cash his cheques, they bounced. He went missing in Perth in February last year and has not yet been found.
"Lam Chen Fong, 32:
"At his peak, he employed eight runners to place bets here and in Malaysia almost every day on everything from Toto, 4D and horse racing to soccer.
"But when his losses snowballed to $4.7 million in 2002, the remittance agent at Wen Long Money Changer in Geylang devised a money- transfer scam and duped hundreds of Chinese nationals working here through his scam.
"All in, he pocketed $8.8 million from 1,153 Chinese workers, most of which he squandered on gambling.
"He was arrested in January 2002 and sentenced to 22 years in jail."
"David Chong Seah Wee, 41:
"For five years, Chong, a customer service officer at HSBC, hid a shameful secret. He was a compulsive gambler who thought nothing of spending up to $500,000 a week on 4D bets.
"He even dipped into the bank's till, making off with US$7.2 million (S$12 million).
"He would write the names and particulars of real and fictitious bank customers on the back of debit vouchers and hand them to the cashier on the pretext of making withdrawals for clients. To cover his tracks, he also made out credit vouchers to balance the books. He was arrested in January 2002 and sentenced to 12 years' jail."
An extract of an ST report today: Madam Tan Li Lian, a 40-year-old civil servant-turned-housewife ... tells Glenys Sim her story:
'Mum's addiction left me scarred'
"AT FIVE, I 'lost' my mother. She went to illegal gambling dens every day and sometimes we wouldn't see her for days.
"... When she ran out of money, she would dip into our savings. That was the red packet money we received during Chinese New Year.
"At one stage, when she was on a winning streak, she flew to Genting in a helicopter every day. Otherwise, there was a lot of shouting and screaming as she and my father quarrelled about money all the time.
"Terrified, I watched many of her friends end up mortgaging their homes, pawning jewellery and neglecting their families.
"... For each person sitting at the casino table, a child is crying at home for his parent."
Just because a problem (gambling and its associated vices) had been there for some time does not mean that one should have more of it!
What would you say if a gambling relative (who lives with you) suggests to you that you should mortgage the house for a 'sure bet' since gambling had been happening all these while in the house? Would you agree to gambling heavily since most people you know are doing so?
Would you believe him that future problems can be solved while existing problems still remained a big headache?
Would you want to add more problems? Or solve existing problems first?