: Value Investing Forum - Singapore, Hong Kong, U.S.

Full Version: More leave home to flee gambling debts
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
The social cost of the IRs! I really hate what Singapore is turning into - Singapore Incorporated, no doubt....without a soul for its people. Sad

Jun 27, 2011
More leave home to flee gambling debts

Number seeking help to locate missing spouses triples so far this year
By Elizabeth Soh

RETIRED teacher Alice Lim's husband ran away from home for three days in March because of gambling debts.

She came home one day to find red and yellow paint splashed all over the door of her flat, and his belongings and passport missing from their bedroom.

It was only then that she found out that her husband, a 58-year-old former broker, owed more than $150,000 to loan sharks after chalking up debts in the past six months at the Resorts World Sentosa casino.

Mrs Lim, 56, made a police report. Her husband returned home three days later, but she could not get over his gambling problem.

They have since filed for divorce.

She is not alone in having a runaway husband who lost and borrowed large sums at the casinos.

The Crime Library, a volunteer group here, said it has been approached by 60 spouses so far this year for help in locating husbands who have disappeared because of gambling debts - triple the 20 for the whole of last year.

'They come to us in distress because they don't know what to do, their husbands just disappear,' said Mr Joseph Tan, founder of Crime Library.

'We try to assist them in SMSing their phones; they do come back but the damage has been done and many split up.'

He added that almost all the cases involve debt chalked up at the casinos with credit cards, such as by getting cash advances using the cards.

Most who go missing are from middle- to upper-middle-income families, he said.

'They can use multiple credit cards before they run out of options,' said Mr Tan.

Most of the absconding husbands come back after two to three days to face the music, but in the meantime, the families are usually frantic with worry.

'To me, walking out on us, even if it was for a few days, was the straw that broke the camel's back,' said Mrs Lim.

'Gambling became more important to him than his family,' she added.

But individuals and family members can act to prevent access to casinos here.

The authorities allow individuals to apply for self-exclusion online, and loved ones to apply for a family exclusion order by calling the National Council on Problem Gambling helpline on 1800-6-668-668.

As of January this year, there were 3,816 self-exclusion and family exclusion orders in all.

Of these, more than three-quarters involve men, more than 90 per cent are Chinese, and more than half are aged between 30 and 50.

Of the 3,816 exclusion orders, 297 were applied for by family members, mainly spouses , followed by parents, children and siblings.

Another 27,500 people are on third-party exclusion orders because they are on public assistance or are bankrupt.

Sociologist Paulin Tay Straughan said a person could let his guard down in a casino as the ambience is welcoming and he may think that problems could never arise.

She added that it is difficult for people to control the amount of money they spend when they think that they may win more or recoup their losses in the next round

Two weeks too long for exclusion order?

Should a temporary exclusion order be issued to problem gamblers?

That is the question posed by Madam Chia Guek Hong, who wrote to The Straits Times Forum last Friday, saying a lot of damage could be done during the two weeks it takes to process an exclusion order.

This is what some people apply for - from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) - in a bid to stamp out their family members' gambling problems.

Madam Chia wrote in to say that she recently found out that her 58-year-old husband had been borrowing money to gamble at the casinos, chalking up more than $17,000 in debt. She and her son applied for a family exclusion order.

'To my horror, I found out that the process takes two weeks. We can only pray that he will stop going to the casinos because, in the intervening days, he could pile up a lot of debt,' she wrote.

She suggested that a temporary exclusion order be issued to prevent further damage.

It was reported in January that Chinese men aged 30 to 50 make up the bulk of those excluded from the casinos, at their own request or that of their families.

Exclusion orders were introduced in April 2009, and the process initially took about six weeks to complete.

The families had to go through counselling and a social report had to be completed before a hearing date would be fixed and the order issued.

However, after extensive feedback, the process was modified last December and shortened to two weeks.

Under the current process, a counselling session is conducted by trained professionals just before the scheduled hearing.

A three-member Committee of Assessors, chaired by an NCPG council member and with professionals and grassroots leaders as members, assesses the application. Follow-up counselling will be provided where required or requested.

I really wonder what's the "real" social costs of the IR. How many have since applied for exclusion order? How many are real cases that needed outside help?

Believe newspapers would love to publish such sensational news to increase sales, but it may not reflect on the actual impact of the IRs. For instance, people loan money from loansharks in the past as well to fund their ToTo or 4D dream, yet we rarely see reports on Singapore Pools breaking up families. How many of these hard core gamblers transferred their "passion" to IRs? Should that be considered part of the "cost" as well?
Casino has quite a bad impact on the society. I notice that the number of pawn shops doubled in my neighbourhood, possibly from the increase in demand for people to encash their jewelery to pay for debts.
(27-06-2011, 07:02 AM)piggo Wrote: [ -> ]How many of these hard core gamblers transferred their "passion" to IRs? Should that be considered part of the "cost" as well?

If the cost has merely been transferred then it shouldn't be considered an addition to the total no?

But therein lies the the problem with assessing the impact of the casinos in SG. How much of the impact is actually a transfer vs an increase? An even transfers can impose added social costs.

- How much of it is actually a transfer from offshore casinos?
- Is a greater amount of one's income now being spent on gambling as compared to before?
- Have there been more cases of loansharking on our shores due to the opening of the casinos? (Doesn't matter who they lend to but if the actions of splashing paint etc impose a real social cost.)

I think the people who would know best are Social Workers. Any increase in caseload with problems, directly or indirectly, due to gambling will give a pretty good idea.
Know of some freinds who work in RWS and MBS IRs, they told me it is the locals who form about 70-80% of the customers of the casinos, so the negative impact on the sociaty is infact greater than expected. More social problems , more broken families , very bad for some of our citizens.
Wats so fun about casinos............There are cheaper entertainment around......
(27-06-2011, 04:24 PM)newborn1000 Wrote: [ -> ]Wats so fun about casinos............There are cheaper entertainment around......

But most of us are married with children!!!!! Wink
Maybe the Movie 21 can shed some light. I think not only the thrill of winning rather you can have a secret life and become someone else for a weekend.

Maybe mon-fri you could be a geek clerk at the bottom of the food chain in a company working behind a desk that nobody notices but come the weekend you could be transformed into a highroller like a rock star Big Grin

From stories I've heard from those who frequent casinos, gaming halls are pretty electrifying places in an atmosphere where people are shouting and screaming and a lot of excitment going on I think that forms part of the addiction.
Frankly i still cannot understand why people can get themselves addicted to a losing money habits when the roll is against you in the long run.

Is not like stocks or playing over majong with relatives where you gains net net.
Or go shopping or play computer strategy games or .. or ..or .....hmmm. i think 4D or ToTo lost is also quite limited.

There are so many things to do in life.


(27-06-2011, 11:51 PM)corydorus Wrote: [ -> ]There are so many things to do in life.

Yes I agree!

Am going to the upcoming Cranberries concert on August 1, 2011! They are going to rock the house with Zombie, Salvation, Linger and other amazing hits! Big Grin