S’poreans are world’s biggest gamblers

I refer to the article “Small country, large stakes: S’poreans are world’s biggest gamblers” (The New Paper, May 26, 2015).

It states that “While the national average spent by local gamblers last year is much lower at US$1,019 (S$1,361), it was enough for La Fleur’s Magazine, which reports on the US$262 billion global lottery industry, to name Singaporeans as the biggest lottery spenders.

1.5 times that of the 2nd ranked

That figure is close to 1.5 times that of the second-ranked Massachusetts State Lottery, where the average spent last year was US$730.

Large number of betting outlets

One reason given for the high lottery sales is the large number of betting outlets here, which makes it convenient for local gamblers to place their bets.

$8b a year

In total, local punters spent close to $8 billion a year on games run by Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club.”

How much of the casinos’ $5b lost by those living here?

In this connection, what about the estimated $5 billion gaming revenue a year of the two casinos?

Why people gamble?

As I have written scores of articles on gambling in Singapore and Japan – I have been talking to quite a lot of people over the years, to try to find out what is their primary reason for gambling.

Of course, from my experience most people can’t or won’t tell you and most probably don’t even know themselves.

Their only “hope”?

Anyway, my take is that a lot of people gamble because it is the only “hope” for them.

They see no “hope” in their jobs in the future. As they get older, their wages start to fall and they also fear losing their jobs (retirement study commissioned by the Ministry of Manpower).

They see no “hope” in their lifestyle in the future, as the cost of living keeps rising (most expensive city in the world, The Economist).

They see no “hope” in growing their assets in the future, as their bank deposits (savings 0.1 per cent, fixed deposits 1 per cent), CPF interest (2.5 per cent on the Ordinary Account), bonds (Singapore Savings Bonds less than 2.5 per cent even if you keep it for the full 10 years), stock market (almost zero return on the STI last decade), etc, are and have been among the lowest in the world.

They see no hope in acquiring big ticket items like a house or a car, as their net disposable income makes these unaffordable and beyond their reach (estimated about a quarter of workers earn less than half the median income).

Leong Sze Hian

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