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Singapore to Release Problem Gambling Self-Help Website

5 January 2011 by admin

Singapore's_flagLast year, Singapore opened the first two casinos in their nation’s history. The move marked a change in direction for the country. Their economy had once been based primarily on manufacturing. In recent decades, though, they have lost a considerable amount of the manufacturing market to nearby economies in Vietnam (who makes a lot of good clothes) and China (which makes almost everything on the planet). To combat losing some of the manufacturing market, Singapore has turned to gambling and entertainment to drive the economy.

In doing so, though, the country has never turned a blind eye to problems that go along with gambling. Like many things, if not done moderately and responsibly, gambling can be a problem. The government of Singapore, which is known for their strict laws and prides itself on its low crime rate, has set their sights on problem gambling and ways to combat it.

The easiest and most obvious way to combat the problem is to not let those with a gambling problem enter the casinos. The Tanjong Pagar Family Service Center is tasked with handling exclusion applications. Those applications, which are submitted by family members of problem gamblers or by the gamblers themselves, serve as a ban once they are processed. Once a person is excluded, they cannot gain entry to a Singapore casino.

The Singapore government has also been circulating posters and various other forms of advertisements for gambling hotlines, to encourage people to seek help. They know that more has to be done, though. A recent study showed that only 7-12% of problem gamblers seek professional help.

selfhelpTo combat that problem, the government has decided to let the problem gamblers help themselves by giving them the tools to do so. The National Addictions Management Service is working on creating an online self-help manual for problem gamblers. The thinking is that people who are too embarrassed to call a hotline or visit a group would be willing to help themselves if given the right tools.

The self-help manual will allow problem gamblers to get help in the privacy of their own home. They can access it confidentially and, unlike with the phone hotlines, won’t even need to talk to anyone. Of course, the manual will include information on how to get professional help if that is what is desired. A similar self-help approach to problem gambling is being tested in New Zealand.

In an era where seemly everything is done online and at home, including casino gambling, it’s not surprising that counseling for compulsions would go that route as well. Charlotte Beck, Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling said that while “there will always be a need for clinical treatment,” the self-help guide will “open up the range of options” for those who want to seek help independently.

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