When I visited the Singapore museum a few months ago, I read this interesting story. In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles left the administration of Singapore to his deputy, William Farquhar giving him strict instructions on how to develop the island. When he came back 4 years later, he was horrified. Farquhar had taken the easy way to economic development by allowing vices such as gambling dens to spring up to fill govt coffers. Raffles upset at the economic short cuts taken by his deputy[Read the story here] sacked him a few years later.
I will keep posting about the casinos because I feel strongly that the harm it brings will far exceed any benefits. The govt enjoys the tax revenue it collects from this casinos while churches, temples and social workers are left to help the the broken families. The problem with the casinos is the same as cigarettes. When cigarettes were introduced many years ago, its cancer-causing properties were not known. If cigarettes are invented today, the authorities would have banned them outright. By the time scientists were sure that cigarettes cause cancer, millions were already addicted, companies selling them were rich, powerful and influential and millions of people dependent on the tobacco industry for jobs.....it becomes difficult to shut them down. Once the casinos are here, they take up a large amount of resources that could have been used for productive healthy economic activities. As the govt becomes dependent on the tax revenue, regulating the industrial becomes harder due to conflicts of interests - much of the social wreckage it simply passes to churches & social workers. The NCPG (National Council on Problem Gambling) has an annual budget of $2.5M[Link] vs the hundreds of millions the govt collect as tax revenue from this activity vs the hundreds of millions the casinos spend to entice gamblers to grow its business.
It has been almost 200 years since Raffles gave strict instructions to his deputy Farquhar not to allow gambling dens in Singapore. Instinctively, he knew that the harm caused by gambling will outweigh the short term economic benefits. When the PAP govt wanted to legalise casino gambling, they sold the idea by telling us we can easily exclude family members if we find out they have a problem. Today, families with problem gamblers faced plenty of red tape[Link] [Link] including the need to get the problem gambler to agree to the exclusion. We were also told that the main intention of having the casinos is to create jobs for Singaporeans - but Singapore is not short of jobs that is why we have hundreds of thousands of foreign workers here. The actual problem we have is structural unemployment and shortage of good quality jobs - judging from complaints from Singapore workers at the casinos, the casino solves neither of these[Link].
"My brother called the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) helpline and left his contact details. When no reply came, I called a week later, only to be informed that there were more than 300 applications still waiting to be processed and a counsellor had to be assigned to each case.
We were told that only one place, the Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre, processed all applications and the NCPG would start considering a ban only after it had received a lengthy report of some 24 to 27 pages from the centre.
What's more, the hearing to determine the ban would involve the addicted gambler as well as the family members to argue their case.
When I sought clarification, such as the need to seek the addicted gambler's approval in applying for the exclusion, the reply was that those were the rules."
- Casino Exclusion : Family Frustrated by Red Tape[Link]
The PAP govt was just thinking like William Farquhar 200 years ago when they allowed those casinos to be built - short term economic gains and tax revenues. Ordinary Singaporeans pay the price for the casinos as social costs mount.