Oct 23, 2012

Singapore - Safeguards must evolve to fight problem gambling

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SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Chan Chun Sing, on Tuesday said combating problem gambling is a never ending process.

And while the government continues to review and strengthen social safeguards, tackling problem gambling also requires personal responsibility, family support and community involvement.

Mr Chan was speaking at the third Singapore Problem Gambling Conference which focused on addressing the harms to families of problem gamblers.

He said studies have shown that families of problem gamblers usually owe money to the banks or licensed money lenders.

Many of them find it difficult to understand the contractual terms of their loans. They fear losing their homes, their cars and the possibility of facing bankruptcy.

Mr Chan said the National Council of Problem Gambling is addressing this concern.

In May this year, it started a one-year pilot on legal and financial advisory services at three family service centres.

The service equips both families and case workers with toolkits which can provide information and knowledge on dealing with basic financial and legal difficulties arising from problem gambling.

Mr Chan said while the family can be a victim, it is also part of the solution as family members are often the ones who know best if their loved ones require help.

He added that family support is a key factor in aiding a gambler's recovery from gambling addiction.

Individuals must also take personal responsibility for their actions and have courage to seek help when needed.

Findings from the Gambling Prevalence Survey last year showed that the probable pathological and problem gambling rates among Singaporeans have remained low at 1.2 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.

But Mr Chan said Singapore cannot be complacent. He added that as the forms of gambling evolve, societal, family and individual safeguards must also evolve accordingly.

- CNA/fa

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