PETALING JAYA - Malaysia can take a leaf from Singapore in combating illegal betting, an advocate of responsible gambling suggests.
"In Singapore, part of the taxation revenue from the gambling industry is channelled back to gambling disorder treatment and research on best practices.
"While the gambling industry in Malaysia has corporate social responsibility programmes, they rarely include giving back to treating those addicted to gambling," National Committee on Problem Gambling secretary Dr Jasmine Loo said in an interview here.
She said Malaysia could learn from Singapore, which was best in Asia for combating problem gambling, which is considered a mental disorder that disrupts the way a person functions in all aspects of life.
Dr Loo, a psychology lecturer at Monash University Malaysia, felt Malaysia "has a long way to go to prevent its citizens from getting hooked on gambling".
"Malaysia has yet to enforce mandatory preventive and harm minimisation measures in gambling outlets, as practised in Singapore, to remind gamblers to play responsibly.
"This is similar to cigarette boxes that carry messages to warn about the ill effects of smoking," she said.
Dr Loo said that in Singapore, outlets that sold lottery tickets trained their staff to deny customers from buying numbers if they (customers) showed signs of problem gambling.
"Family members of problem gamblers in Singapore can also bar their loved ones from entering casinos if they inform the authorities of the situation," she said.
"In Malaysia, the same can be done but, somehow, the gamblers can easily overcome this."
Dr Loo urged the various stakeholders, including the Government and the gambling industry, to work together in combating the scourge.
She said the committee, set up in 2011, was not against gambling but advocated responsible gambling and social responsibility that put a person in a safe environment and could leave the game at any point.
The committee conducted a population research in Selangor among 1,070 randomly-selected households between 2012 and last year on the prevalence of problem gambling.
It found among the 372 respondents, 4.4 per cent were problem gamblers.
Dr Loo said the percentage was higher than that in other Asian countries.