The number of problem gamblers referred to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) increased from 2008 to 2009, but this is not unexpected, said the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sport, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, in a written response at Parliament.
Families and individuals opting for exclusion orders from entering gambling facilities at the integrated resorts have also increased.
Dr Balakrishnan explained that the numbers reflect the greater awareness of the exclusion orders following NCPG's public education efforts. Family members and individuals have also been proactive since the casinos opened.
NCPG appointed Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre to treat the less serious problem gambling cases in the community.
Those with more serious addiction problems are treated by the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) which offers clinical and counselling services. Both Tanjong Pagar and NAMS also engage with families, where the problem gambler refuses to come forward.
The number of clients seen by Tanjong Pagar was 128 cases in 2008 and 134 cases in 2009. Up to June this year, 113 cases were seen, of which 44 were new clients.
As for NAMS, the number of cases seen was 176 cases in 2008 and 290 cases in 2009. From January to June 2010, number of cases seen was 243, of which 130 were new clients.
Dr Balakrishnan assured that MCYS and NCPG will continue to monitor the situation with the introduction of the IRs. Should social problems arise, MCYS will take steps to address them.
Gamblers who wish to seek help are advised to call the National Problem Gambling Helpline on 1800-666-8668.