Singapore rolls out responsible gambling code
It aims to raise industry awareness on responsible gambling practices in Singapore. Key measures in the Code include provision of information about the risk of gambling, help services, training of frontline staff to help customers who show signs of problem gambling
Singapore rolled out a new code today to encourage gambling operators to adopt responsible practices.
Big players like Singapore Pools, Singapore Turf Club, and 12 social clubs and public sector staff recreation clubs that operate jackpot machines have agreed to adopt practical steps in the code to curb problem gambling.
These include the display of prominent notices and brochures to remind customers not to gamble excessively and information on problem gambling help lines and services.
The code is the result of discussions between operators and the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
It also covers the training of frontline and management staff for them to know more about problem gambling.
They will be trained, for example, on how to identify and refer problem gamblers for counselling and treatment services.
The NCPG plans to work with the Community Addictions Management Programme, run by the Ministry of Health, to design the staff training programme.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, announced the code at the opening of the inaugural Singapore Problem Gambling Conference.
He said: “I hope the gambling operators and major social clubs who have agreed to adopt the cod will diligently apply it and be role models.
“I also hope that the smaller private clubs that run jackpot rooms will follow suit and avail themselves of the staff training that NCPG will run, to help them understand more about problem gambling and how they can help.”
Dr Balakrishnan also made it clear that most practices in the code will be mandatory for the casinos coming up in Singapore.
These practices will be included in the legislation regulating casino operations. The NCPG will work with casino operators on additional responsible gambling initiatives over and above the practices contained in code and the casino legislation, the minister says.
“With industry support, we can reduce the social problems arising from gambling.”
Gambling has expanded rapidly worldwide and technology fuelled a significant growth in internet gambling. Easier access to gambling increases the risk of problem gambling.
A study conducted by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports in 2005 found that 2.1% of Singaporeans reported symptoms suggestive of probable pathological gambling.
“This number may be small at a macro level, but each individual and family afflicted by gambling addiction is one too many,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
Research has shown that well-designed, evidence-based prevention programmes, education and support services can help reduce harm caused by gambling problems.
Singapore has had the benefit of learning from the experiences of other countries in addressing problem gambling.
Its national framework on problem gambling focuses on public education, counselling and support services at the community level, medical treatment for compulsive gamblers, research on problem gambling and effective regulation of the gambling industry.
Mr Lim Hock San, Chairman of NCPG said: "The council is encouraged by the support shown by the major gambling providers for the code of practice. We will review the code periodically to make it more robust, taking into account new developments.
"The NCPG welcomes continued feedback from the industry and the public on how the Code can be further improved."
Apart from formulating the code, the NCPG has also implemented many other initiatives to address problem gambling in its first term of office during the past two years.
These include year-round public education campaigns to inform Singaporeans about problem gambling and how to seek help.
The council also played an instrumental role in developing and setting up the community-based problem gambling intervention services.
It also embarked on an extensive stakeholder and public consultation exercise to gather feedback on how best to implement the casino exclusion measures.
The conference is an NCPG initiative for renowned experts to share latest trends and research on problem gambling and best practices with policymakers, regulators, counsellors, educators, researchers and industry representatives in the region.
» Have your say on this and other issues in our forum pages