Problem gambling rate in S'pore falls but more starting young: Survey

Problem gambling rate in S'pore falls but more starting young: Survey

SINGAPORE - The proportion of Singapore residents gambling has dropped to 47 per cent last year, from 44 per cent in a 2011 survey. According to a survey by the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG), most were gambling with smaller amounts in 2014 as compared to 2011, with 90 per cent betting less than $200 a month.

A small proportion of 0.3 per cent gambled with large average monthly betting amount of more than $1,000, and the proportion has decreased in 2014 across all income groups.

Overall decrease in problem gambling rates

Based on the survey, the probable pathological and problem gambling rates among Singapore Residents saw a decrease from 2.6 per cent in 2011 to 0.7 per cent in 2014.

The probable pathological gambling rate - defined as a sign of more severe addiction, was 0.2 per cent, down from 1.4 per cent in 2011. The probable problem gambling rate dropped by 0.7 per cent from 1.2 per cent in 2011 to 0.5.

However, the survey found that probable pathological gamblers were gambling more frequently (83 per cent gambled at least once a week compared to 68 per cent in 2011). They are also starting to gamble regularly from a young age, with 17 per cent of them picking up a regular gambling habit before the age of 18, as compared to 5 per cent in 2011.

The survey also found that this group exhibited poor self-control in terms of gambling for a longer period of time, with more money and more frequently than they had planned to, especially among those who participated in online gambling, table games and jackpot machines.

The majority of probable pathological gamblers experienced strained family relations and less satisfaction with family life as a result of their gambling habits. 75 per cent of these gamblers regretted the way they had spent their money.

Although the number of people seeking help for problem gambling has been increasing, many remain hesitant to come forward.

NCPG said it will expand its youth outreach programmes to equip young people with the skills to prevent, identify and deal with problem gambling. Its chairman Lim Hock San said: "Our youth are increasingly vulnerable to developing a gambling addiction, in particular online gambling, through early exposure via free social gambling simulation games."

The report on the 2014 Survey on participation in gambling activities among Singapore Residents will be available on the NCPG website: www.ncpg.org.sg from February 5, 2015 at 6pm.

candicec@sph.com.sg

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