Find other ways to counter illegal gambling

I was saddened by last Thursday's report ("Legal online betting may be available soon").

The Government approving Singapore Pools' and Singapore Turf Club's applications to be exempted from the Remote Gambling Act would be taking the easy way out in its efforts to counter illicit gambling on unauthorised websites.

Instead, it should think up responsive measures by working closely with the police and the Infocomm Development Authority, while continuing to ban and block websites that offer remote gambling services.

In fact, the ban acted as a deterrent.

What makes the Government think that the number of gambling addicts will not spiral upwards with the introduction of online betting?

Leisure gamblers could possibly turn into chronic ones. Online gambling could even reach new audiences, such as young people, housewives, retirees and the jobless. All they need is a smartphone or computer to log in at any time.

It is easy to get addicted to gambling, but so much harder to get out of it.

Chronic gamblers still place bets, even with the inconvenience of having to queue at kiosks. Why tempt them further with the convenience of online betting?

Telling the public that the gambling surpluses from Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club are used for good causes is irrelevant to families that are broken up as a result of gambling.

These families may not recover from the psychological damage gambling does to them.

We have already seen the damage the casinos brought. We do not need to see more.

Toh Shok Ching (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Find other ways to counter illegal gambling'. Print Edition | Subscribe