After denying a license for casino operation for so many years, why did Singapore changed her mind and issued two licenses instead?
Was it tourism, economic restructuring, job creation, efficient utilization of prime land, a combination of factors or simply, we were at wits end?
Whatever the reasons, any impact study would have highlighted the evils and damages of gambling, gambling addiction and its attendant social ill-effects, including broken families, gangsterism and prostitution. While you can control and manage criminal activities, families break down, and breaking up, due to gambling losses and addiction is fairly unavoidable.
Except for voluntary debarment, banning Singaporeans from the casinos is not a good solution, not even collecting S$100 entry fee. Like suicides, there will always be a minority who will gamble away their lives. Why should we have beautiful resorts built only for foreigners to use and enjoy? Have more faith in, and trust, Singaporeans to be disciplined enough to enjoy the facilities without gaming side-effects?
How do you grade a person as 'financially at risk'? Whose conclusion was it that the poorer, lower income earners should be banned as compared to high to higher income brackets? The evils of gambling is blind.
The Casino Control Act and/or the National Council on Problem Gambling CCA/NCPG need only to decide if Singaporeans can or cannot visit the casinos once and for all. Revenues aside, this is not about controlling and limiting smoking, and independently thinking Singaporeans are able to decipher what's good or bad for them. The State should stop nannying into every angles of our lives.
This is not the time to argue about the evils of gambling but to decide if Singaporeans should or should not be allowed to go into the casinos. Why discriminate against some and leave bitter after taste? All other incidental defences and preventive measures against the ill-effects of gambling, like counselling, are useful but symptomatic treatments.
Trust your people, trust your citizens and trust Singaporeans to be able to manage their own lives. Surely, this trust was evident and was one of the comfort before we decided to issue gambling licenses; it cannot be an after thought.
Article published in STforum, 10July 2012