Keep 'fruit machines' confined to casinos

"Fruit machines" is just a fancy term used to refer to gambling slot machines.

These machines can also be found at clubhouses, like that of the National University of Singapore Society and some clan associations (Tiong Bahru FC amassed $37m from jackpot machines; April 20).

The innocuous-sounding label does not make the machines any less harmful.

Media reports tell us that many retirees sit in front of these machines for hours on end.

This is understandable, as studies have shown that slot-machine gamblers get their "high" and lose perception of time when they enter the "machine zone" psychological state, where they experience heightened arousal from the sensory stimulus coming from the machines.

This explains why they can be so addictive. One shudders to think of the amount of money lost to these machines and their impact on society in general, especially when the $100 levy imposed on Singaporeans to enter casinos does not apply at these football clubs, clan associations or clubs for university graduates.

Why do the authorities allow slot machines in such venues?

These machines should be confined to casinos, and casinos should not be thinly disguised as sports clubs, clan associations or university clubs.

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Keep 'fruit machines' confined to casinos'. Print Edition | Subscribe