Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Casinos: The high social costs...

"Citing a number of analysts, the Straits Times claims that the bulk of the gamblers at the two casinos are Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, who have to pay a S$100 ($72) daily or S$2,000 ($1,435) annual levy to play the tables" - [Report]
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"It is believed that the victim lost a huge sum of money amounting to some S$70,000 at a casino last week, which resulted in his act of suicide.....", ST May 2010.[Link]


"The reason for the attempt of suicide is still unknown, probably because the victim owed debts or suffered huge losses in casinos like previous reports of similar suicide cases"

ST April 2010[Link]


"...15 percent of Singapore problem gamblers have attempted suicide, "

[Link] 29 Sep 2009


I'm sure not many of you will feel sorry for the rich feller who lost $26M at the casino recently. The media reported that the married high roller who turned up at RWS with a girlfriend lost this massive amount over a period of 3 days. There are several things to learn from the story. People can lose control at the casino and gamble away their lifesavings. You cannot count on the casino to limit the social costs of its existence because a large part of its profits comes from problem gamblers. For every Henry Quek (the chap who lost $26M), there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ordinary Joes who lost more than they can affort and whose families have to suffer the effects of those losses.

I read a brokerage report on Genting early this year . The analyst rated the stock a sell because he believed investors are overly optimistic about Genting prospects and his back of the envelope calculation showed little chance of Genting breaking even this year. Boy was he wrong! Genting reported blockbuster profits of $396M in the latest quarter and revenues of $860M[Link]. If this continues Genting will report profits in excess of $1B for the whole year. This is performance far exceeded the highest expectations of analysts that cover the company. The govt will be collecting plenty of corporate tax from Genting and its shareholders are cheering the success of the company. But who pays the price?

The high profits of Genting means that its casino is filled everyday by gamblers. It is not known how many are Singaporeans, like Henry Quek and how many are foreigners. There is plenty of harm to go around. I don't think you should be too happy even if some of the profits come from foreigners. It is not good to have foreign workers who are supposed to be here to earn a living and better their lives back home to lose money at the casino. We have seen quite a few crimes committed by people who lost money at the casino.

We were told the main benefit the casino is to create jobs for Singaporeans (not tax revenue for the govt?) but if you visit the casino, many of the jobs are taken up by foreigners and this whole thing about job creation may be a farce because Singapore has to import foreigners to fill many of the jobs available. The real problem is with structural unemployment among older workers which is linked to the large number of younger workers employers are able to import instead of employing older workers.

You notice how quiet the Singapore’s National Council On Problem Gambling (NCPG) is in recent months. When was the last time you saw an anti-gambling ad? Given what is going on at the casinos, the NCPG should be doing its job to tell Singaporeans about the harm of casino gambling and run an anti-casino gambling campaign. The NCPG has a paltry annual budget of $2.5M (vs Genting's $396M quarterly profits) - this money is probably not even enough to buy the free drinks and snacks the RWS gives out at its casino to attract gamblers. This govt is not serious about solving the problem of gambling. The NCPG was formed in 2005 only to reduce the resistance towards having casinos.... looking at Genting's huge revenue and profits, do you think things are under control?

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

are things under control? No.
are they supposed to be? C'mon,
like that how to make mah-ney?

then how, the social costs? Oh
grow up! the GDP is growing...
so plse, shut up and sit down!

Anonymous said...

i worry about increase crime rate in the future

raph said...

So much for our high minded asian values!

Sad really...the need to grease the economy with gambling money

http://vonhayek.blogspot.com/ said...

My concern is on another area. In the first place, why did PAP gave the casino license to Genting and the Sands?

Both are controlled by foreigner, one is a Malaysian Chinese the other an American Jews.

We could have created a join venture under the control of local businessman.

Similarly, why are Singaporean forbidden to open a bank meanwhile banking license are issued to foreign banks setting up shop here.

The reason is very simple. PAP simply hates singaporean. LKY hates to see a emergence of a merchant class which could undermine his rule.

Similiarly, our top students are deprive a place in medical school due to limited vancancies in local universities.

Meanwhile, the shortage of doctors was remedy by importing pinoys who do not have competency even in communicating with patients.

Over the years, the purpose of PAP is to create a disfranchise citizenry, making sure not one group is too strong enough to challenge LKY and cronies.

We need to kick out PAP so that our sons and daughters will cease to be slaves.

Anonymous said...

The "smart" solution to unemployment problem (Esp for the older people) is to import more FTs to "create jobs" for locals. This is uniquely spore.
The "smart" solution to "money no enough" is to allow more avenues to gamble. This is uniquely spore.

Anonymous said...

Yes Casino has high social costs, no doubt about it.

But what is most important is that this high social cost does not translate into a political cost to the PAP that affects its 98% parliamentary majority. Or affect social peace. Same for other costs, eg high HDB costs, screwed up YOG costs, too many foreigners costs etc, etc.

MM Lee is there to mentor and ensure that. So far he has done a very good job on this (don't you agree?) and this alone is worth the millions he is paid for. Don't get it wrong, he does not just forecast, he advises too.

The great political trumpcard of PAP allows it to try various experiments to increase GDP and making all kinds of mistakes, never mind what the bloggers, the peasants etc rant and feel.

What's the big deal if you keep ranting and feeling bad about it? So what?

no country for poor man said...

It is all very good if you belong to the upper middle class with parents having a generous nest of eggs tucked away. You are are smart enough and with the self control of not becoming a gambling addict. What Lucky is concerned about are not people like you. There are many less fortunate fellow countrymen who have neither the conducive family background nor academic acumen to reach your level. Some were exposed to the wrong social values from young and not knowing better. For those of us who are more fortunate and able to think for ourselves, perhaps we should reach out and help our less fortunate compatriots. Giving to charity is an easy option but shaping our joint social values is equally and no less important. Having achieved the status of a First World country, Singapore can afford to do more for those in the lower socio-economic group. Something we probably couldn't do 30 years ago because we are more focused on the nation's economic survival. It is easy to blame the poor for their own predicament. But given the circumstances these people are born into, it is not easy to breakout of the poverty cycle. Some do despite overwhelming odds. Good for them. I'm sure given where we are today, we can spare a little more who are really down and out. We can afford it. And it won't turn us into a nation of dole bludgers but will go a long way to create a more equitable and caring society.

Anonymous said...

The dividend they going to pay up in the future, can we considered it as "Ghost" money since it's might be one of the poor chap that throw himself/herself of the block or onto our MRT track? Blood money like Blood Diamond?

Anonymous said...

zero sympathy for the gambler(s).

Anonymous said...

The NCPG is just a token gesture to counter the nay-sayers. Wayang.

Action speaks louder than words. But so far it's been just words, no action. NATO.

The social cost will continue to climb. In fact, when the interest from the foreigners wane as newer casinos spring up around the region, I would expect RWS/MBS to heighten their campaign to attract more Singaporeans to patronise the casinos.

JRT said...

I stayed in Resort World Singapore a couple of months back, and the majority of the staff are foreigners.

The govt can mandate a high percentage of the jobs must go to Singaporeans, but they did not. This is a golden opportunity to create even more jobs for Singaporeans and perhaps justify the creation of casinos. Surely the casinos are easily absorbed these higher operating costs?
Why didn't the govt exercise that option? If they did, i would applaud, because without these 2 casinos, Singaporeans would still be flocking to Batam or Macau or Genting to gamble away anyway?

It appears that the biggest winners in these casinos are the operator and the government

Like many others, i believe the adverse social costs and social ills are much worse but it is not reported.

Anonymous said...

We still need at least 100k foreigners to fill jobs which can't support even an individual in S'pore. Do a check ard local pawnshops and you will get a clearer picture of S'poreans gambling. At the end of the day, money goes to government and foreign remittance. How the 2 IRs will add to S'poreans pockets will be the biggest con job in S'pore history.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why fish is so expensive these days. Now l know ...hmmmmm......perhaps there is some kind of price cartel going on at the fishery port?

Anonymous said...

I dont go to the casino for very simple reason. I am not prepared to lose $100 even before I place my $$$ on the table. To me, its very very `sway' (bad omen). Suppose someone was attacked you with a knife. Do you blame the knife or the attacker. Do we banned knives then? Grow up for God's sake.

Anonymous said...

Well, no matter what we people say, it does not concern them. All I will say is that if you know any one related to the ruling elite, bring them to the casino. I hope someone from the elites' family or the elite themselve (no way they got no balls to break the master;s rule) becomes am addict and loses millions and kills himself. That would be retribution

lim said...

The casinos just begin operations this year, it will probably takes a couple of years before we see huge increase in crimes..

Sad, by then the GE will be over, and if pap still wins, we will be on the path of no return..

Anonymous said...

24/8/10 10:15,
Knives have other uses; Casinoes don't. A more appropriate analogy would be:

Suppose someone were to shoot you with a gun. Do you blame the legal availability of guns or the attacker. Do we ban guns then?

Yes, please grow up for goodness sake! We should ban guns, just as we should ban casinoes.

Anonymous said...

Did LHL made a promise that most jobs will go to Singaporeans when the casinos are opened when he was facing opposition from the citizens?

Opposition MPs please question the actual employment figures breakdown into citizens, PRs and foreigners in the IRs !!!

Anonymous said...

Take heart. I'm aware that small groups of religious people are offering prayers to their God to turn the tables on these 2 casinos. Some of these religious groups are conducting prayers at the sites and walking around the buildings. You can also see incense and joss sticks by the roadside. Whether you believe or not, we do have people invoking religious powers against the gaming houses. Let's see how powerful these peoples' Gods are. dt

Anonymous said...

Anon 20.8.2010 10.15

Guns were banned becos it doesnt make sense to let the common people have the same firepower as the police or the army. Hence your analogy is that of small-minded people. Grow up for heaven's sake.

Anonymous said...

How can Singaporeans blame the PAP for their own gambling problems.

This is so unreasonable.

The Government has done all it can, short of banning gamblings altogether, by imposing prohibitive levies on the locals. And yet highly educated and intellectual bloggers are targeting our wise leaders for the silly addicted sinkapooreans.

Time for isd to have some talks with bloggers to understand their rationals for holding the government responsible for the foolishness of local gamblers in the IRs.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Lucky,

I have been banging walls on deaf ears for so many years but I think the cause is lost once PAP govt started to build these two Casinos.

I happen to pass by MBS while attending the YOG concert on Saturday. Overheard two Aunties in their fifties discussing their gambling plans. One said, with such determination, that she will "definitely win" this time round. I nearly have the impulse to go up to her and tell her the blatant truth, in the long run, the house will win in statistical terms.

There are thousands of such aunties and uncles in the casinos. Many of them gambling away their lives.

Very few people could avoid becoming gambling addicts once they start visiting gambling dens. Gambling addiction is cultivated by nature of how the gaming is done. (read my speech on anti-casino in March 2005).

But the PAP govt tends to think that they could help to avoid all these social costs or mitigate the problems by setting up some watchdog. That is really dreaming of the highest level.

For readers of this blog of Lucky, don't ever think that you could be lucky today or any time and thus, you could try your luck on the gambling tables in the casinos. Statistically, the odds are always against you in the long run.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

It is an obvious thing that the casino will be the one bringing the money. But i thought there is a clause stating that the % of profit/revenue should not exceed a certian % of the entire business? if so, what is the penalties...
Secondly, there is of course social problems due to the casinos. The govt should do more to educate the working-class Singaporeans - they are the ones who can't afford to gamble. Ppl like Henry Quek can well afford losing a few million (maybe its just petty cash to show off to his girlfriends).
Lastly, I have not visited the 2 casinos yet. So i don't know how true it is that majority of the employees are foreigners. But if it is true. There can be only a few reasons - Singaporeans don't want to work in the service industry; Singaporeans are not qualified enough to work in the industry or Singaporeans are not being considered by the 2 operators.
Well, I hope singaporeans are not too picky. If its becos we are not qualified then the question to ask is why the foreigners are and how recognised are our universities then.

Anonymous said...

Casinos are PAPies method of culling the sheep --- preferably older and slower Singaporean sheep which is the typical makeup of problem gamblers.

So it's a win-win-win-win for PAPies. They get billions in taxes, increase in GDP, $2,000,000 in special bonus, $300,000 in monthly salary increment, reducing the numbers of older, slower Sinkies who are broke, create more reasons to import vast quantity of cheaper and faster foreigners. It's a shiok time for the MIW.

Alan Wong said...

I have just recently heard that one perfume salesman has just recently surrendered to the Police for criminal breach of trust of the sales proceeds to the tune of S$200K that he has collected on behalf of his employer. He had just gambled it away at our 'integrated' casinos. I was told that his wife also lost her job under the same employer.

Who will be the ones suffering from such lapses ? Probably the kids or the parents. Definitely not LKY or LHL or any of the PAP Ministers for the matter !

In fact, with increased GDP, the PAP Ministers will be the end beneficiaries, benefitting at the expense of some hardcore gamblers. Can we blame PAP for social costs that our soceity has eventually to pay ?

Perspective said...

The PAP has always advocated the family as the basic unit of society. But gambling not only destroys lives, it also tears apart the family unit. I will not be surprised to see a fractured society in just a few years - abandoned penniless elderly folk, young men/women turning to crime to fund their habit, and neglected children.
Oh and I have not even began to imagine what it would be like when the organised crime syndicates move it to make some money too!

Anonymous said...

It is a matter of choice! Why blame the casinos and govt when it is the gamblers that have no self control.

Anonymous said...

My big regret is that I did not buy Genting shares earlier. I thought that the casino would fall flat on its face, given the huge loan to build the IR.

The house always wins. Why do I keep forgetting that?

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself what drives the PAP and you'd understand why they do what they do - what are their values and what they stand for. Don't just read what they say, see what they do.

And don't confuse the PAP with the government.

The government is the system that's in place to carry out policies of the ruling party.

Towkay said...

I don't see the problem here. If Singaporeans die or run road due to gambling, we can bring in foreigners to replace these gone case Singaporeans.

I will only worry if we cannot find people to replace the Singaporeans. To date, PAP has done an excellent job in promoting Singapore as a place to migrate to, so people, no worries.

Anonymous said...

The social costs are so high, yet ask yourself, are u benefiting from the casinos? Or would u be benefiting from them.
The answer is no!
Even the jobs created by casinos also go to FTs.

Anonymous said...

please ignore this blogger,Towkay

Anonymous said...

Perspective,

Organised crime syndicates??!!! PAP is the biggest organised crime syndicate. They collect protection money, regulate prostitution and gambling and have enforcers. Oh yes, they are very organised.

Perspective said...

@Anon 25/8/10 0702 hrs

Good point! That did not cross my mind before but come to thing of it, you are right. We are ruled by the mafia. The only difference is that instead of sending hitman to sort out "problems in the neighbour", they send the ISD. LOL!

Perspective said...

I meant "think of it", not "thing of it". Sorry

Anonymous said...

Could it be that Singapore has deveoped two big groups of gamblers

The frist group makes very easy money,nothing to throw them again to feel good;
The second group are desperate people who have little money,to make more they turn to gaming.

Personally I believe that PAP may have over estimate the tourism potential of casinos

Anonymous said...

To depend on vices for the development of a country to me is just sinful.

And it also prove that the Leadership of such a country not only lack propriety, it also has no conscience, integrity and worse, no talent to develop a country properly.

Mind you, SIN is not even the size of a city in many other countries.

patriot

Anonymous said...

PAPies have learnt a few things from their so-called business partners, the Burma drug lords. Just like drugs, there will always be some people willing to lose everything in gambling.

Instead of trying to be the poor policeman going after all the kuching-kura gambling den and play in the minor league 4D, Toto etc, why not be the mastermind? PAPies realised it is much better to be the ones pulling all the strings, set the rules, control the billion-dollar industry and collect multi-million dollar salaries.

Too bad if some pathetic Sinkies cannot control themselves, lose everything and kill themselves and their children. As long as got big fat profits and money in their Swiss bank accounts can already.

casino refund said...

now you know the evils of gambling and the social cost of having Casinos in SG...and our prison has to expand to house Casino cheats which are caught almost every week..

hyom said...

Hi Lucky Tan,

It is good of you to highlight this great evil on your widely-read blog.

Besides social costs, the casino also introduces financial risks to every Singaporean family, businesses and taxpayers. Once a family member becomes a problem gambler, his debt problems will spread to impoverish other family members who will have to sacrifice an arm and a leg to bail him out. Declaring bankruptcy is not an escape route if the money was borrowed from dangerous people who have no respect for the law. A loving father, like most fathers, will sacrifice his retirement nest-egg to save his wayward son.

Businesses will face risks of fund embezzlement from employees who made huge losses. Taxpayers will also have to pay more for government corruption.

The government elites who allowed this evil to take root in our country are themselves subjected to this risk. Their own children may become problem gamblers. I hope they adopt Tan Kin Lian's suggestion to prevent the casino from extending credit to gamblers. This way, gamblers will limit their losses to cash on hand and not snowball let it to become an unserviceable debt upon which honest men may be tempted to resort to illegal means to pay up the huge debt quickly.

Anonymous said...

There will be ppl who will never be drawn to casino who are the majority.
There will be ppl who should be drawn to casino
There will be ppl who should not be drawn to casino
There will be ppl who are just there for an experience and nothing more.

The casino exists for category 2 ppl.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys...just asking. Does it ever cross your mind that whatever we write here, be it the govt or opposition party, will ever read these remarks or postings? Moreover, will the govt come down on Mr Lucky if anti-govt remarkes were posted? Just like the guy who wrote anti-govt remarks on his FB and was hence arrested.

DanielXX said...

in my view, many of the outspoken anti-casino pundits around are probably christian fundamentalists who latch on to every single episode of casino-related bad press to promote negativity.

i think hypocrisy is the worst of all sins. fark off.

Anonymous said...

Just like to diclose that some Christians that I know socially patronise the RWS Casino. They do attend churches regularly and praise their lords frequently.

Anonymous said...

@DanielXX and Anon 10:19
Let's not skirt the issue here. We are discussing the negative impact of casinos which Lucky has very clearly pointed out. By trying to divert the attention away from the negative impact of casinos and attacking christians out of the blue, you appear to be throwing a smoke screen over the whole issue. If you haven't realised from Lucky's article, people are killing themselves, families are being torn apart and we are expecting crime rates to go up. Please keep to the topic and refraining from throwing smoke - unless, of course, you are ISD agents trying to take the heat off the government.

DanielXX said...

everything has pros and cons. you build offices, there will be people who die from office stress. so you want to ban offices? in that case go back to the ancient way of farming.

you manage progress. you don't try to stop it because of its negative externalities. the correct way to approach this is to do it in a constructive way. suggest ways to lower casino-related ills.

hyom said...

Hi DanielXX,

I have been a loyal reader of your posts on internet forums. I like the deep analysis on your blogs, but they have become inactive lately.

There are people who have seen and heard stories of distant relatives being destroyed by gambling, so they can become quite emotional about the casinos. They may use words like evil to describe the casinos that make them sound like self-righteous religious fundamentalists.

I think it is fine to disagree, so there is no need to use strong words like fark off, although I do like your forthright style of writing on internet forums. Since I have learnt a lot from your writings, I am in no way going to fark off. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The transport fares keep increasing.
It is very tough for those who have little or no income.
Money no enough, so more people will try their luck.

Anonymous said...

"DanielXX said...
you manage progress. you don't try to stop it because of its negative externalities."

What nonsense are you spewing.

Maybe because the 'benefits" from progress as in the casinos are easily seen in quantifiable $ & cents whereas the negative externalities cannot br easily attributable to the sources - as the blame can always be directed to the gamblers who seem to lack displine and self control.

And apparently a different set of people get to beneifit dispportionately more from this 'progress' over another group of people who may have to suffer from these negative externatlities.

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Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason why foreigners are taking up the jobs is because there are few Singaporeans who are qualified or willing to take up these jobs. This is probably why there are unemployed Singaporeans.

This is rooted in our own culture and beliefs. We have been brought up in an era of financial and economic prosperity hence as a result, many Singaporeans are now unwilling to take up jobs which they believe are unfit and meant for foreigners.

People should stop whacking the PAP and all this class talk.

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