Proportion of problem gamblers falls to 0.7% - lowest in last 10 years

Five years after casinos set up shop here, the proportion of problem gamblers has plunged to a 10-year low of 0.7 per cent of the population, a biennial national gambling survey has found. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
Five years after casinos set up shop here, the proportion of problem gamblers has plunged to a 10-year low of 0.7 per cent of the population, a biennial national gambling survey has found. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

SINGAPORE - Five years after casinos set up shop here, the proportion of problem gamblers has plunged to 0.7 per cent of the population, a national gambling survey has found.

This is the lowest proportion since the first large-scale gambling participation survey, carried out every three years, was done in 2005, when the percentage was 4.1 per cent. In the last survey in 2011, it was 2.6 per cent.

-- TABLE: NATIONAL COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING

Overall, the proportion of Singapore residents gambling has also dropped further to 44 per cent last year, from 47 per cent in the 2011 survey.

These findings from the survey, which polled 3,000 Singapore residents aged 18 and above, was released by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) on Thursday.

Stakeholders say that the decline in problem gambling could be due to better awareness of what constitutes problem gambling and the greater range of help resources available. Several social safeguards to deter Singaporeans from frequenting the casinos were also put in place over the last few years. Other reasons include people not having the means to gamble due to recent economic conditions.

The council said problem gamblers and addicts still remain a concern because more of them are gambling more frequently and starting to gamble at a younger age. The majority of them also report experiencing strained family relations as a result of their gambling habits.

"Going forward, the next step for us is to really focus on how we can better reach out to this group of very hardcore gamblers," said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing.

"They seem to be gambling with greater intensity and less self-control, bringing harm to themselves and their families. Yet many do not seek help until it is too late."

As nearly one in five of problem gamblers pick up the gambling habit before the age of 18, NCPG said it will expand its youth outreach programmes to equip young people with the skills to prevent, identify and deal with problem gambling.

Its chairman Lim Hock San said: "Our youth are increasingly vulnerable to developing a gambling addiction, in particular online gambling, through early exposure via free social gambling simulation games."

-- TABLE: NATIONAL COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING