Nov 27, 2010 - ST Forum
THE lure of the two casinos proved irresistible for a bored, elderly family member of mine who quickly became addicted to gambling, as well as the trappings surrounding it, at the integrated resorts.
To mask his addiction, he wept and lied about failed stock investments. Then, he admitted to his addiction, only to deny it subsequently after my brother refused to give him any more money.
Finally, he turned aggressive when we warned him that we would apply to enrol him in the family exclusion scheme.
Little did we realise that we would face just as many problems over that.
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.
I sought an appointment but none was given.
I am stumped by the bureaucratic obstacles that stand in the way of applying for a ban on casino entry, let alone being successful in it.
What exacerbates my family's frustration is the stark contrast between the public impression created - that it is easy and convenient to obtain an order - and the reality that the process is mired in red tape - from unsatisfactory front-line service to an apparent lack of manpower in processing applications quickly.
They are more interested how much the IRs contribute to them.