Singapore’s main counselling centres for gamblers saw 1,000 more cases of problem gambling in the past three years compared to the prior three-year period, the Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin was quoted saying in parliament on Tuesday.
Channel News Asia quoted Mr Tan saying the Thye Hua Kwan Problem Gambling Recovery Centre and the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) – described as Singapore’s two key service centres for gambling addiction treatment – saw an aggregate of 2,700 cases between 2012 and 2014, almost 60 percent more than the number seen between 2009 and 2011.
“The increase is due partly to greater public education efforts, which have raised awareness on problem gambling and encouraged help-seeking behaviour,” the minister reportedly said.
Gambling addiction has been one of the main concerns of Singaporean authorities following the legalisation of casinos in the city-state. Singapore citizens and permanent residents must pay a levy in order to enter the casino floors.
The Singapore government doesn’t issue any data on the annual number of local or international visitors to Singapore’s two casino resorts – Marina Bay Sands operated by Las Vegas Sands Corp and Resorts World Sentosa, operated by Genting Singapore Plc – or to the city-state’s slot machine clubs. But a written reply by the government in March 2012 to a Singapore MP’s inquiry noted: “The two operators recently released data which showed that 136,434 and 137,259 unique local patrons visited Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands casinos respectively in 2011.”
The city-state’s National Council on Problem Gambling launched a new campaign addressing problem gambling earlier this year across multimedia platforms that included broadcast, print and online.
As of March 31, the total number of active exclusion stood at 250,497 people, according to data from the National Council on Problem Gambling. The data show there were 200,785 self-exclusions, including 15,497 Singaporeans and permanent residents.
On Tuesday, Mr Tan said that the two counselling centres are available to help problem gamblers and their families, adding that Thye Hua Kwan treats less serious cases, while NAMS also sees to the more severe pathological gamblers. There are also other private and non-funded community and religious organisations offering similar services, he added, according to Channel News Asia.
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