Wednesday, November 24, 2004

BBC NEWS Business Do casinos bring riches to provincial towns?

Good stuff and a nice little summary about the economics of casinos.

My personal opinions on this are pretty mixed. Emphirically, practically and pragmatically, there are many many good and strong reasons for the legalisation of an integrated resort, amongst which is that we already have a gambling society and a gambling problem and it seems terribly unlikely that in a society with 4D, Toto, horse betting etc. that a casino will make a big difference, we already do have illegal gambling dens, and people do go for cruises to play at their casino.

So logically, the fear of a casino adding to our gambling woes needs to be directly attributed to the casino itself. The most that we would be doing is to lure those who gamble overseas back to our sunny shores. Fears of the members of society suddenly deciding to turn into gambling fiends might have a simpler resolution in terms of membership requirements.

Principly speaking, I suppose people ought to have the right to choose, and fears of third party harm which is unfortunately terribly likely are already existing (though prevelance is a questions without many answers as it's something that the govt doesn't quite address). Furthermore, cigarette smoking and consumption of alcohol have as bad if not worse effects than gambling has. Granted of course that we should not seek to encourage the introduction of more societal vices. But I think it's a little too late to put the gambling genie in the bottle.

So the emphasis here needs to be on harm reduction. I think the casino would be a major catalyst in the acknowledge that Singapore might have a gambling problem and that we need a proper structure to handle it. Evidence overseas, particularly in Australia and the US have shown that the casinos have seen it in their best interest to keep such problem gamblers out and into treatment. Let's face it, the big bucks aren't made off us proleteriat but the 'Whales' the so called big gamblers who can afford to blow hundred of thousands at the table.

Personally, however, I'm not a big fan of gambling and casinos though I did enjoy my time at Vegas (though what the hell four 17 1/2 year old were suppose to do in the City of Sin was beyond me. The buffets were great though.)


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