10 TALES FROM TAXI passengers to and fro Singapore casinos

Mr M, 47, was a former senior sales and marketing manager at an electronics MNC for nine years before he was retrenched in 2009. Married with a wife and twin teenage sons, he tried his hand at being a financial advisor for a year before deciding to become a taxi driver. He has been running his taxi service since 2011. He survived a heart-attack in late 2012 and now has four stents in his heart. His philosophy on life is now to live well, stay healthy and to share his real-life experiences. In his second post on Taxi Talk, he talks about real-life encounters with Singapore casino patrons.

Thank you for the many comments and encouragement after my first post last week.

This week, I would like to talk about the social impact of the casinos in Singapore and how they are affecting families in our community.

I pick up many casino patrons during the course of my work every week. These are real-stories shared by customers whom I have picked up at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resort World Sentosa (RWS) over the last two years.

Passenger #1 
A Thai permanent resident lady of about 35 years old who dresses as a tai-tai. She has lost S$300,000 at MBS over a period of 6 months, but she still continues to gamble at RWS because she "wins more than she loses". She stays at a condo in the city.

Passenger #2 
A wholesale male worker of mid-twenties from China, whom I picked from Pasir Panjang wholesale centre one morning. He was heading to RWS and told me he had lost S$12,000 at RWS in one night. He currently earns S$1,200 per month and is now struggling to pay his debts and has defaulted payment to his family in China

Passenger #3
Picked up a Singaporean man in his late 40s one evening. He was well-groomed and wearing office attire but he did not have any money to pay for his fares of S$35 from MBS to Chua Chu Kang. He tried to use his mobile phone as “guarantor” so he can go back home to get money to pay his fares. I allowed the arrangement in good faith, as the mobile phone was genuine and in good working condition.

Passenger #4 
An army regular in civilian clothes in his late twenties who goes to MBS every Thursday/Friday and plays from 6.00pm – 5.00am. He returns to his camp near Nee Soon the next working day to resume his work again.

Passenger #5 
Singaporean lady in her 70s who goes to MBS daily to gamble from 8.00pm – 7.00am. She redeems her membership card points to stay in the hotel. She lives in a landed property. Her daughter would accompany her in the evening to MBS and pick her up in the late morning.

Passenger #6 
A Singaporean male in his 40s who has lost his franchise convenience store business due to big gambling losses. He is currently unemployed now.

Passenger #7
A Singaporean male in his 50s who has incurred excessive gambling debts and is trying to recoup his losses amounting to S$100,000. He's now in the process of filing for bankruptcy.

Passenger #8 
A Singaporean male in his 40s whose wife left him with 2 children after he incurred huge gambling losses totalling S$200,000. He has downgraded from a five-room flat to a three-room flat. His addiction to gambling started when he was a teen, coming from a broken family.

Passenger #9
An Indonesia PR in his 50s who gambles S$1,000 max at RWS every week. Refuses to bring his ATM/credit card along.

Passenger #10
A Japanese man in his 30s. He gave me a tip of S$39 on top of his fares of S$11 (gave me one S$50 dollar note and asked me to keep the change) whom I picked up from Lavender street to MBS in one morning. It was the highest tip given by a customer. I think he must have won big money the previous day and was continuing his second round that morning. However, my buddy taxi friend told me he had ever received tips of up to S$200 in just one night when he picked up a passenger at RWS.

I am not a gambling expert but I know enough from personal friends to know that addiction to gambling is NOT just a personal problem. It will end up affecting the entire family if there is no self-control and discipline.

Here are useful tips I've heard to keep gambling from becoming an addiction.

— Allocate money for necessities first (eg: bills, daily expenses, transport, food, rental etc)
— Never use more than 2 per cent of your income for gambling
— Avoid temptation by not going to casinos or associating with gamblers
— When you gamble, do not carry with you more money than you can afford to lose
— Never borrow money to gamble. Never !
— Don't lend money to a gambler. You will probably never get it back.

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