Letter of the day

Make it easier for family to have gambler banned from casino

My mother has lost $500,000 at Singapore's two casinos.

The economic benefits of these casinos were thoroughly discussed when the Government sought opinions from the grassroots on the impact of having the casinos in Singapore.

However, these overall numbers fail to capture the financial and social impact the casinos can have on a family with a loved one addicted to gambling.

What started out as a social weekend activity for my mother gradually developed into a daily activity.

Soon, the more time she spent in the casino, the more she lost.

When my family brought up the issue, she would be adamant about gambling and say her money is hers to spend.

While that is certainly true, I doubt that the casinos will be taking care of her medical and daily expenses in the future.

I believe the social safety net is still inadequate. Currently, family members need to prove that the gambling has had a social or financial impact on them to get a gambler excluded from the casinos, a process which includes having to attend a hearing.

Why place the burden of proof on the family? I appeal to the authorities to put in place a system that is preventive.

Let the person who wants the freedom to gamble prove to the court and the social workers that she is not addicted to gambling by showing proof in the form of time spent in the casino and her financial records.

The authorities need to give family members more power to intervene in a loved one's gambling addiction without having to jump through hoops just to show that their family member is addicted.

The current system is inadequate and skewed towards hindsight measures.

If someone is not addicted to gambling, then she can always prove that to the courts to have the ban lifted later.

Ong Eric

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2021, with the headline 'Make it easier for family to have gambler banned from casino'. Subscribe