Singapore Pools offering online betting

From ‘Greater responsible gambling efforts needed if online betting is allowed’, 12 June 2016, ST Forum

(Woon Wee Min): In the light of laws passed to curb remote gambling, it is difficult to understand why the authorities are even considering granting Singapore Pools permission to offer online betting (“Singapore Pools still waiting for nod on online betting“; May 31).

If online betting is indeed going to be offered, more care must be taken to promote responsible gambling.

Systems and processes must be put in place to allow self-exclusion by vulnerable customers and impose auto-exclusion of minors.

…It behoves Singapore Pools and the authorities to do more to ensure that the availability of online betting, should it become reality, does not exacerbate the issue of problem gambling in Singapore.

The idea of remote Singapore Pools gaming has been mooted for more than 10 years, with some punters suggesting that AXN machines allow betting, in addition to electronic scratch ticket machines which were launched in the heartlands in 2010. Queues at the Pools have become somewhat of a heartland icon, and while operators have argued that going online is part of cost-cutting and shortage of manpower, the sheer timing of this news, in the throes of Euro 2016 fever and the reported dismissal of RWS staff, suggests that this is more than just an act of convenience, but a shot in the arm of Singapore’s ailing gaming industry.

The only difference is that instead of siphoning off VIP high rollers from China, we’re attempting to recoup our losses from a struggling casino (oops, I mean INTEGRATED RESORT) by sucking money from our local gamblers instead. I have always questioned the rationale of having two casinos since the IRs were established 8 years ago. Now not only do we have to worry about the social cost of gambling addiction and family wreckage, but the additional cost of unemployment in the face of RWS axing staff. MBS may be better off, being regarded as more a tourist destination than a casino per se. Until of course, aliens decide to blow it to smithereens.

If Singapore Pools goes online, it  may well spell the end of queues, but without the proper safeguards while hiding behind this guise of ‘legal gaming’, it may make our gambling problems worse. Now you can spend $100 to lose money at our legalised/licensed gambling dens, or just lose money without stepping out of your house in front of a computer or from your phone while shitting in the toilet.

Thankfully, not all in Parliament agree that certain operators should be exempted from the remote gambling laws. In 2014, MP Christopher De Souza said:

On one hand, you have enforcement and punishment which rightly say remote gambling should be deterred. Yet, we are also saying there can be a medium through which remote gambling is legitimate

Denise ‘Walking Time Bomb’ Phua:

If, indeed, we so strongly believe remote gambling is harmful and does no good to either the people or nation, then are we legitimising the act of gambling and breeding its acceptance by legally providing for exempt licensed operators in (the Remote Gambling Bill)?”

So that was in 2014. In 2 years the context has changed. Exemption is not only to ‘create an ecosystem to minimise law and order concerns and social consequences (criminal syndicates)’, as S Iswaran said in the defence. Today, with RWS hitting the red, an Internet for restricted gaming will probably breed an ‘ecosystem’ for gamblers to get their fix at the click of a button, should they not wish to head to Sentosa or MBS and throw away $100.

Let us not pretend that the Pools and Singapore Turf Club are just entertainment outlets for uncles and aunties to while their time away. It’s practically a legal casino conglomerate stripped of its glitz and glamour serving as a source of government revenue (to a tune of 2.3 billion over 5 years), at the expense of our citizens. With the fall of RWS and Pools riding on a wishy-washy piece of legislation, threatening to turn Internet gaming as Singaporeans know it into a state-endorsed duopoly, preying on the whims and hopes of people who could barely cough out the $100 entrance fee trying their luck, so will more drown in it.

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Couple having sex in RWS jacuzzi in front of children

From ‘Couple causes stir in Resorts World Sentosa jacuzzi’, 14 Dec 2014, article by Lim Yi Han, Sunday Times

A couple allegedly stripped and had sex in a jacuzzi at Resorts World Sentosa’s Beach Villas last Friday afternoon, in full view of horrified guests. While the jacuzzi was meant only for the couple’s villa, it sat within a larger pool being enjoyed by other guests.

One guest, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lee, told The Sunday Times that she was alerted to the incident when her two children and their two cousins – aged between five and 11 years – noticed that the woman was not wearing anything from waist down. The children were swimming in the pool at the time.

The 41-year-old housewife, who was there with other family members after one of them paid about $1,000 a night for their villa, said she alerted the concierge immediately, and told the children not to look.

“But the couple started having sex in the jacuzzi. It was very obvious, and my mother shouted at them. I quickly ran in to get my phone and snap pictures, and they stopped only when they saw me doing that,” said Madam Lee.

“I would have closed one eye if the kids were not there, but I’m surprised the couple did it even though they were aware there were children around.”

…Those guilty of public nudity can be charged under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, and face up to three months in jail, and a fine of up to $2,000. For committing an obscene act in public, the maximum punishment is three months in jail and a fine.

Embarrassed, curious, shocked, amused, angry perhaps, but the ST chose to describe onlookers as ‘HORRIFIED’. Madam Lee herself admitted that she would have let the horny couple go at it if there were no kids around, though I doubt that would stop voyeurs like her from taking photos either. If there’s anything useful about this complaint it’s that people, not just young innocent children, should avoid private jacuzzis altogether. You never know what remnants of bodily fluids lurk in that bubbling cauldron of sex.

Telling your kids ‘not to look’ is just about the worst parenting advice ever. Children will stumble onto sex inevitably, whether it’s from the Internet, a HDB staircase, void deck, on public transport, even erotic bus ads. A mother determined to shelter her children’s eyes from any activity hinting at public fornication would have to equip them with smart visors 24/7, a gadget that turns your field of vision into a mosaic fog once activated by Mommy’s stern voice, or if the device detects two human bodies connected in a pattern consistent with ‘fondling’.

Better still, hook your 11 year old up with chastity underwear with erection sensors, because once you stop him from staring at people having live sex, his adolescent mind will automatically conjure up fantasy scenarios beyond a wet romp in a hot jacuzzi. Once an arousal is detected, a signal will be transmitted to an app in Mommy’s phone with the notification: ‘Level 5 erection detected’, after which the program will share tips on how to control your kid’s bodily urges, like throwing him into a tub of ice or making him kneel before an altar and confess to some angry deity.

Children should be protected from domestic violence, misogynistic rap songs, bad grammar on public signs and people not clearing trays in hawker centres. An encounter with public sex is an opportunity for realistic, fact-based parenting, not puritanical liturgy; To teach children that people engage in exhibitionist sex because they’ve run out of ideas in the bedroom, that excessive time spent in a jacuzzi is bad for your sperm (after which you can educate him about what sperm is), and that if you ever think of hanky-pankying with your classmate in the void deck, the penalty will be some uptight housewife whipping out her phone (which they only ever use to play Candy Crush), uploading your pic on Stomp, and exposing the precocious, disgraceful pervert that you have become, your life ruined forever.

Singapore qualifying for the Poker World Cup

From ‘S’pore makes cut for poker ‘World Cup”, 3 Nov 2013, article by Caroline Khew, Sunday Times

Singapore is going to the “World Cup” in Brazil next year. The World Cup of poker, that is. Its six-man team beat four other countries to take third place in the first-ever Asian Nations Cup in Sanya, China, last month.

It meant the Republic qualified for the second International Federation of Poker World Championship in Rio de Janeiro next February. There, it will take on 15 other countries, including heavyweights the United States and China. The prize pool has yet to be revealed but last year it stood at half a million euros (S$838,000).

Singapore team manager Vince Lau, 52, told how qualification was no easy feat. The team was in the bottom two after the first day and it was only after a change of strategy that Singapore toppled the likes of Japan and India in the later sessions.

“It has been quite an experience and a challenge for us,” said Mr Lau, who is also the president of the Poker Federation of Singapore. “This was our debut match overseas against other Asian countries. Securing third spot was really quite an achievement as we are a young team.”

…Although poker here is not as popular as it is in other countries, Mr Lau said interest is growing. The Poker Federation of Singapore, for example, started with about 100 members in 2009, but its membership has grown to about 350 today. Online poker games have also been gaining traction on sites like Facebook, said Mr Lau.

The Poker Federation of Singapore aims to create awareness of poker being a game which involves using the mind rather than just one associated with gambling. “It’s a stereotype,” said Mr Lau. “Many people don’t know that poker is about skill and risk management rather than being at the mercy of cards. It’s about making the correct decisions based on calculated risks.”

When Mah Bow Tan launched his dream project Goal 2010 for Singapore football, no one believed him and till today, 3 years past schedule, we’re nowhere near target. We may even have trouble qualifying for the 2100 championships, unless by then it’s no longer humans running around kicking a ball, but robots, a department in which we may excel in. No one would expect that we would make it to World Cups and championships that have NOTHING to do with what Mah had in mind.

Just last month, a Singaporean duo won the GARDENING World Cup in Japan. You may also be granted deferment from NS for playing World championship Counterstrike, or Super Street Fighter for the country. In the realm of ball games, we qualified for the 2012 World FLOORBALL championships.  We’ve conquered the world in schools DEBATING, and are succeeding on the Asian stage in SPELLING. All of which suggests that we’re focusing on the wrong events, that Singaporeans are more adept at landscaping, nerdy mental games or poker than swimming or table tennis. We’re, after all, a Garden City with some of Asia’s brightest kids and the most emotionless i.e ‘poker-faced’ people who’ve ever lived on this planet. Look, Sports Council, no FOREIGN IMPORTS too!

Poker, however, is a game that is less likely to send you to a prestigious championship event than into a psychiatric clinic or a Maxi-Cash. Once you’re hooked and indebted, you may very well lose the equivalent of World Cup prize money ($838,000) before getting anywhere near a tournament. If you can’t afford to pay the $100 levy to hone your poker skills at the IRs, there’s always Facebook games or online casinos, poor substitutes for the real thing which requires real-time ‘risk management’ and reading other players’ expressions and gestures. If you need human faces to practice on and can’t wait until CNY, you can join any of the poker ‘meetups’ online for some ‘clean and friendly’ games. Our IRs even have dedicated ‘poker rooms’ for the pros, with a Poker Room Manager as an actual occupation. A Harvard professor uses poker to teach ‘life skills’ like ‘patience, composure and respect for ones’ foes’. Pretty handy, until you become bankrupt when the only skill you need is that of begging for your life.

Glamorising poker or gambling in general isn’t new though; Mediacorp has done sequel after sequel of ‘the Unbeatables’ to make gambling Casino Royale cool. None of the poker pros featured, however, look anything like Li Nanxing.

One Singaporean who has avoided public scrutiny for obvious reasons is trained accountant and poker king Bryan Huang, who’s like the secret Fandi Ahmad of Poker. According to the website Pokerstars, he’s one of the highest earning Singaporeans of ALL TIME. A Poker tour is also EXACTLY how I’d imagine it to be, judging from the photo below. It’s like a car-show and a James Bond movieset in one!

You can Texas Hold Em if you want

The timing for this article promoting poker as some kind of competitive sport and the ‘thinking man’s game of chance’, however, seems misplaced. Late last month, a reported 175, 680 people were placed under casino exclusion orders, a 4 fold increase from 2011 (175, 680 excluded from SIngapore’s two casinos, 27 Oct 2013, ST). We’re also seeing a rise in pawn shops and moneylenders. Pitching the game as one that is as mathematically challenging as Sudoku and you can win big money from tournaments may encourage novices to give it a shot, and not everyone would have the ability to differentiate poker ‘for fun’ or career prospect vs poker as a spiraling addiction. Even poker pros themselves admit to getting burned at the tables in their ‘training’, and it’s obvious that to be the best in the world of competitive poker, you have to lose money. It becomes a problem when you don’t lose well. It’s not like chess where all you have to lose is face.

Yes, this face

Good luck to the poker dudes, anyhow (I doubt any Minister will come forward and offer their support, right MG Chan Chun Sing?). I’m sure there’s a Poker God of Gamblers in waiting among our Maths Olympiad kids, who are blessed not only with our Singaporean emotionless face but a natural poker heuristic, who are now being offered a lucrative career option beyond drab academia or teaching statistics . A Youth Championships in the pipeline perhaps?

Wen Wen the dolphin dead, age 10

From ‘Dolphin at RWS dies en route to Singapore’, 22 Nov 2012, article in Today online.

Wen Wen, one of the 25 dolphins at Resorts World at Sentosa, died en route to Singapore today.

Marine Life Park has issued the following statement:

We are deeply saddened that Wen Wen, one of our 25 dolphins, died en route to Singapore today. Wen Wen, a male dolphin estimated to be ten years old, died suddenly less than an hour into landing during the three-hour flight. Two marine mammal veterinarians and eight marine mammal specialists accompanying and monitoring the 11 dolphins on the flight responded with emergency medical treatment.

…The Marine Life Park’s four veterinarians have a combined experience of successfully transporting more than 500 marine mammals. The same veterinary team, with a collective experience with marine mammals of over 70 years, as well as the team of marine mammal specialists on the flight, successfully completed our dolphins’ transport to Subic Bay and the recent transport of our 14 dolphins to Singapore.

A necropsy was performed this morning in the presence of AVA officers. Over the next few weeks, further laboratory tests will be conducted in Singapore and the United States to assess any contributing factors.

…Wen Wen was a sociable dolphin that survived a shark attack in the wild and had the scars of a shark bite on his torso. Wen Wen and his trainer had developed a strong bond during their four years together. He will be sorely missed.

Bottlenose dolphins like Wen Wen can live up to 40 years, but if you’re going to spend the rest of your years living the Flipper lifestyle entertaining kids you would want to end your misery early too. The Marine Life Park was quick to emphasise the amount of research and dedicated expert care into ensuring the well being of their stars, as well as hinting that Wen Wen would have been shark fodder if he had not been ‘saved’ from the atrocities of the wild. What the RWS spokespeople fail to mention is how Wen Wen and his Seaworld inmates got into this mess in the first place, or how heavily invested we are in this dolphin-napping operation to not back out now.

27 bottlenose dolphins were captured off the Solomon Islands, of which 25 survived captivity in the Phillippines waiting to be shipped to Singapore (2 died in Langkawi in 2010 following a bacterial infection). They were KIDNAPPED, not invited, adopted, rescued from Jaws nor born out of Dolphin World already equipped with hoop-jumping abilities. In 2009, Senator Jorge Ordorica of Mexico wrote a letter to then National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan to think twice about dolphin shows after a dozen died within 5 years of their transport to a Cancun water park. One died from transport-related stress, which is deemed a ‘common occurrence’ and looks very much like what Wen Wen succumbed to in this case. Mexico then proceeded to ban all dealings with cetaceans for entertainment purposes, while our authorities decided to go ahead with its gaudy, expensive oceanarium circus anyway, which the way I see it, was planned to preserve the allure of IRs in the event of loss of interest in the casinos.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had dolphins suffering or dying in captivity. In 2003, an endangered pink dolphin from Sentosa’s Dolphin Lagoon named Jumbo had to have 11 teeth EXTRACTED due to wear and tear, apparently from fighting with another male captive. Earlier in 2001, another pink dolphin Namtam died of acute gastritis. The same Namtam, along with another female named Pann, also had to deal with a tragic miscarriage barely a year earlier. When we first set up the Dolphin Lagoon in the late nineties, the AVA made a ‘clerical error’ in reporting the acquired animals as ‘bred in captivity’ when some were in fact caught from the wild. The SPCA in 2010 judged the size of  the dolphin enclosure at Underwater World to be that of a ‘swimming pool’, too small to accommodate the six dolphins, while the company insisted that it surpassed guidelines. That’s like saying Bedok Reservoir is comfortable enough for the Loch Ness monster.

All this for the sake of a wet and wild showcase that is as campy as training Kai Kai and Jia Jia to ride unicycles while holding paws. You can make one dolphin do more tricks with a football than the entire Lions squad, or get cosy with international superstars like Mariah Carey in 2000. The singer reportedly refused to get off her plane like a spoilt brat while demanding to frolic with the Sentosa darlings.

Mimi emancipated

So it’s not just ‘homesickness’ that dolphins have to deal with while keeping our kids entertained. They fight, they suffer strange diseases and they deliver stillborns. According to a Today writer and a fan of ‘The Cove’, more than half of all captured dolphins die within two years of captivity. But you could argue that animals die prematurely and horribly in captivity all the time, in the zoo, or a lab and that it’s easy to get riled up about dolphins because they’re ‘almost human’. This Wen Wen incident, like shark’s fin soup, will be divided between animal lovers and people accusing animal lovers of being hypocrites. Nobody goes to the aid of the guinea pig getting paralysed in a botched experiment, or the monkey forced to wear a tutu for a busking hobo. ACRES was deathly silent about the thousands of sheep flown here for ritual korban slaughter. Maybe sheep just aren’t smiley enough.

Putting aside arguments from a compassionate standpoint or how sentient dolphins really are compared to bunnies in a cage, or whether they’re really smiling or being ironic when they splash about to Katy Perry music, perhaps we should talk about ‘necessity’ instead. Do we need this so much that we’re willing to let some animals suffer for it? Is science worth drilling a monkey’s brain for? How about tourism dollars? Seeing a child with terminal illness or the disabled pet a dolphin on the nose? Will Mariah Carey ever set foot on our shores again without dolphins? What can I get out of Marine Life Park that I won’t out of National Geographic on cable? Is there anything less controversial that I can use to replace vulnerable cetaceans? A giant squid that predicts football results perhaps?

If we can achieve the drastic result of banning sharks’ fin from supermarkets and hotels, we can also put pressure on unnecessary ‘dolphinariums’ that really serve to bolster casino earnings and pander to megastar fantasy rather than to ‘educate’ the public or contribute to ‘conversation efforts’. If 100,000 petitioners won’t do the trick, hopefully one shocking, and jarringly for RWS – embarrassing, loss of life would sound the death knell of this aquatic circus-prison once and for all. As I would turn to our PM Lee and say, losing a Dolphin Park  is not the ‘be-all and end-all’ of the entertainment/tourist/marine industry. A backflip at this point of the project and slowly re-introducing the animals back into the wild may well be the respectable thing to do without compromising the rest of the less adorable marine attractions. The IRs are already contributing to human suffering, let’s not drag other mammals into our moral decline too.

Locals visiting casinos is just an urban legend

From ‘IRs here have not created more gambling addicts:CRA’, 30 July 2011, article by Ng Jung Yng in Today

The presence of the Integrated Resorts (IRs) here has not caused a spike in the number of gambling addicts, said Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) chairman Richard Magnus yesterday, citing a study done by the Institute of Mental Health. Speaking at a question and answer session at the 23rd Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture, Mr Magnus said that the study concluded that gambling addiction numbers before and after the establishment of the IRs remained the same.

What the IRs did, though, was provide “just another avenue for gambling”, said Mr Magnus. He added: “The thinking is that some of these gamblers moved away from the traditional gambling areas and move into casinos.”

…On the call for greater transparency with regard to the number of Singaporeans entering the casinos, Mr Lau (Peet Meng, CRA Chief Executive) agreed that this could be looked into. “It is … probably one of the aspects of the (Casino Control) Act (that) we need to look at more carefully, which is the legality of the information and how the information shared can be used,” he said.

But Mr Magnus reiterated: “I can perhaps give you the assurance that the local urban legend that quite a number of our locals or PRs frequent the casinos … is just a legend.”

‘Legality of the information’? It’s a simple statistic, Mr Magnus. The number of locals visiting casinos can be obtained by counting the number of paid levies, nobody’s asking for the IDENTITY of the people gambling. If the likes of the CRA is reluctant to reveal such information, you will have the casino pundits themselves telling all kinds of stories, like how 3% of Singaporeans have visited the casino. According to the MCYS’s response to MP Terry Lee’s request for a levy breakdown, the answer was ‘about 70 million as of 10 May 2010’ (RWS opened in Feb 2010, MBS April 2010), an astounding figure, even if you consider repeat visitors.

What is so scary about curious Singaporeans or hardcore gamblers visiting our own IRs that it must be labelled an ‘urban legend’? Urban legends are usually dark, gruesomely implausible tales like eating monkey brains, or HIV positive women going around sticking infected needles into men at Zouk, not Singaporeans lurking in casinos and contributing a quick 70 million in levies while at it.  If the very thought of locals patronising the IRs is so horrifying why bother imposing a 30% limit on locals and why not just ban us from entering totally? And what is the CRA doing making a statement that seems to be defending the impact of the casinos on our gambling addicts? Could it be because without the casinos, there would be no, gulp, CRA jobs to speak of? It is regrettable that instead of looking at the broader picture, of how gambling is affecting us on a whole, a respected statutory institution like CRA is telling us ‘Hey, it’s not our fault gamblers are jumping off buildings, look at 4D and the EPL’. Fine, after all they are just the CASINO regulatory authority, not the GAMBLING regulatory authority. Which leaves it to the professionals treating the disease to make a stand (See below, Don’t take gamblers’ SOS lightly, 30 July 2011, ST Forum)

(Dr Tan Hwee Sim, Dr Thomas Lee Kae Meng): BASED on our clinical experience in treating problem gamblers, we think it is a grave misconception to believe that ‘while the gamblers may sound desperate, they actually pose a low suicide risk and are more impulsive than anything else’, as Wednesday’s article (‘Help I’m in debt’) noted, quoting counsellors and suicide experts.

Elevated rates of suicide attempts among problem gamblers are well established. For example, a 2002 study on treatment-seeking pathological gamblers reported that 49 per cent had a history of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. In a more recent local study published in the Singapore Medical Journal this year, 17.2 per cent of help-seeking gamblers had a history of suicide attempts.

The risk of suicide among gamblers is exacerbated by the high levels of impulsiveness, as well as depression and other substance abuse, which are often reported in association with gambling disorders.

We have managed many cases of people suffering from gambling disorders who have attempted suicide or have had serious suicidal thoughts.

Could the CRA and these doctors be looking at the same study but focusing on different outcomes? Neither of them really addressed the important question: ‘Has the introduction of IRs led to an increase in suicides or suicidal behaviour in gambling addicts’? Not an easy question to answer, obviously, but let’s look at what the study actually reported (Are the demographics and clinical features of pathological gamblers seeking treatment in Singapore changing? SMJ, 2011):

Soccer betting is tops

Cohort 1 consists of the first 150 gamblers who sought treatment from IMH since the launch of its national addiction management service (NAMS) over a period of 4 years, while Cohort 2 consisted of the last 150 patients from 2006 to 2008 (2 years). A few problems here, firstly, ”suicide attempts’ but not ‘suicidal behaviour or thoughts’ were considered as a variable in assessing patient co-morbidities, and this only takes into account addicts SEEKING HELP, omitting an unknown number of addicts out there keeping mum about their condition. But more importantly, the casinos only opened 2 YEARS LATER in 2010.

So, if Mr Magnus was referring to this IMH study, it would be misleading to conclude that ‘gambling addiction numbers before and after the establishment of the IRs remained the same’, when the IRs weren’t even in existence when this study was conducted. What does ‘gambling addiction numbers’ mean anyway? ‘Remained the same’ itself is a bold claim. In scientific parlance it’s preferable to use ‘no statistically significant change’, especially in  scientific papers published by IMH clinicians, and making a statement like that is just prompting skeptics to ask more hard questions.  If anything, this study does imply that soccer betting is on the rise, but I doubt anyone is looking into this, probably because you can’t do anything about it short of banning all television, radio and internet broadcasting of football matches and putting Singapore Pools out of commission. But someone needs to call out Richard Magnus and ask exactly what study he was referring to to support his claim, as I couldn’t find the said publication online myself.

So much for the academics giving much insight, what do politicians have to say about this then? Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State, expressed concern about the ‘social effects’, citing the boom in ‘moneylenders offering quick cash/loans’ (Grace Fu voices concern over effects of casinos, 29 July 2011, Today). MP Charles Chong was also a ‘little bit concerned’ if MBS were to expand its business. Nothing much on suicides either, or impact on immediate families, something that is often neglected when dealing with not just gamblers, but ANY addict. Concern is not good enough, PAP. You are the People’s Action Party, not the People’s Concerned Party, and someone needs to put his foot down on the tail of the Road Runner that is the IRs and get some basic data out, before we’re hit by an unsuspecting wave of addiction morbidity and suicides if the industry and the regulatory authority both insist on whitewashing their statistics.

The most telling data in my opinion, in light of all this fudging round, is from this table below from the Samaritans of Singapore, where one sees a clear jump in ‘loan shark’ and ‘gambling’ problems between April 2010 and March 2011. It’s not yet a ‘statistic’ because nobody wants to apply scientific rigor to this data. But here is what I would like to know: Number of people who need help for problems directly or indirectly related to the IRs. It’s not that hard to probe callers for this sort of information, and they may even divulge it willingly. I believe part of the answer may lie with the Samaritans, and the likes of MCYS and NCPG should look into this if they are genuinely ‘concerned’ about Singaporeans.

Casino exclusion rules

From ‘Six-week wait for exclusion is too long’ 11 April 2010 Article in Sunday Times

(Wife of husband who gambled away $19K life savings at RWS Casino): “Six weeks is too long a wait. A lot more money can in lost in six weeks and I don’t even know how we’re going to earn back what we’ve already lost”

(Why waiting period is needed) The family needs to show that the respondent has caused harm to his family through his gambling, such as recurring debts. (Family exclusion) includes interviewing both the family applicant and the gambler, writing a report and submitting it to a Commitee of Assessors which then hears the case.

Incidences like these make us wonder if the government is encouraging or discouraging gambling. Apparently the deterrent of the $100 levy is not working against problem gamblers, perhaps even fast-tracking the route to bankruptcy, and add to this the bureaucratic hassle and paperwork of requesting for exclusion makes it less likely for distraught relatives to come forward, and having some strangers review the situation as to whether the gambler should be banned from the casino, despite the fact that he has gone bankrupt.

Why the hassle with the amount earned from levies? The government should cut to the chase, exert its power and ownership and blacklist gamblers based on financial distress, an objective measure unlike gambling addiction, which goes undiagnosed for most people anyway, and not some ‘expert’ committee which has probably  no experience with gambling addiction at all. The article goes on to state that NCPG believes in ‘responsible gambling’, an oxymoron no doubt. More casino complaints here.

Sex bombed

From ‘Tom Jones’ concert cancelled ten minutes in’ 26 March 2010 Asiaone news

Ten minutes into the concert, which was held at Resorts World Sentosa, Tom Jones shocked the crowd by announcing that he’d have to postpone the concert as he had a bad sore throat and was unwell. He had sung two songs.

(Stella Lee) “I thought he was joking at first but when the lights came up I couldn’t believe it. He should have called it off earlier this afternoon if he was unwell. What a waste of time”

It’s not unusual that in Tim Burton’s movie Mars Attacks, Tom Jones also left a casino performance prematurely, though at the time with the world at the mercy of little green men, it was a valid excuse.

Sings shoots and leaves