News @ AsiaOne

Gambling addict lets wife bar him from casinos

He was once saddled with a $350,000 debt. -myp

Tue, Dec 01, 2009
my paper

BY KOH HUI THENG

SHIPPING consultant James Tan (not his real name), 42, proved his love for his wife - by allowing her to apply for a family exclusion order that bars him from the casinos in September this year.

The inveterate gambler said that his addiction almost cost him his 10-year marriage, his job and his life.

In 2007, he regularly betted "$100,000 at one go" on football matches. But he lost and was saddled with a $350,000 debt.

Depressed, he thought of killing himself.

Suspecting that something was wrong, his wife confronted him and begged him to seek help.

Since November that year, they have been going for counselling together, and his wife monitors him when he goes online to prevent him from placing online bets.

He is still tempted when he passes a betting outlet, but would not "step into a casino at any cost".

He added: "If not for my wife, I wouldn't have known how to handle the problem. Many men hesitate (to get help) because they do not want to 'lose face'."

He has some gambler friends who insist they do not have a problem and resist help.

He is among 19 people whose families have successfully applied to bar them from casinos through the family exclusion order since it was introduced by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) in June.

Last week, the NCPG launched the casino selfexclusion order to aid those determined to change.

Gambling addicts can sign up online at www.knowtheline.sg to get themselves barred from the casinos for at least a year.

Mr Charles Lee, senior counseller at Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre, said that even those who have stopped gambling can opt for selfexclusion, which "is no different from what recovering alcoholics do".

About 25,000 to 29,000 undischarged bankrupts and recipients under government assistance schemes will be automatically barred when the third-party exclusion order - a world first - comes into effect soon, said the NCPG.

Casinos can be fined up to $100,000 if barred individuals are found on their premises.

kohht@sph.com.sg

Those who need help can call:

National Addictions Management Service: 1800-6666-8668
Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre: 6539-6489

 


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