I wish to add a new perspective to the casino debate and to suggest how we can enjoy the economic benefit and minimse its social cost.
I visted Genting Highlands recently to attend a conference. I was amazed. It is a large integrated resort, with entertainment shows, shops, food outlets, children games, an outdoor theme park and casinos.
Many families visited the resort with their children. They had an enjoyable time with the recreational facilities. They do not need to gamble at the casino, if they do not wish to.
The integrated resort is viable mainly due to the casino. But, I estimate that less than 20% of the visitors went to the casino. The remainder enjoyed the other excellent facilities.
Many people are gainfully employed in the integrated resort. The economic benefit from the integrated resport is significant and should not be brushed away.
I share the concern about the harmful effort of gambling addiction. This happens when addicts gamble beyond their financial means and have to resort to borrowing from loan sharks.
We can find a way to minimise this problem. Here is a suggestion. Singaporeans who wish to gamble in the casino has to open an account and depost money into the account. They can gamble by withdrawing moeny from the account. If they exhaust the account, they have to stop gambling. Any deposit into the account cannot be withdrawn on the same day.
This arrangement ensures that they do not continue gambling when their money is exhausted. It prevents them from borrowing to continue the gambling. Although they have the choice to deposit money and come back the following day, they are likely to be more sober.
Tan Kin Lian
(in my personal capacity)
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