29,000 people to be automatically banned from Singapore’s casinos

Singapore: Some 29,000 Singaporeans will be banned from visiting the casino next year when the first integrated resort opens its doors. The first casino at Marina Bay is expected to open in the third quarter of next year.

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) will start receiving applications for casino exclusion orders in January.

And from January 2009, families may also apply for their members to be excluded.

When an application is submitted, both the family member making the application, as well as the person to be excluded will have to go for counselling before a committee of assessors. The committee will then hold a hearing to determine if an exclusion order should be issued.

So far, 60 grassroots leaders and social service professionals have been shortlisted to join the panel of assessors. Each assessing team will be made up of two of them, together with a council member from the NCPG.

The assessors were selected based on their age and maturity, years of experience in the social or community service, the ability to make proper and fair judgement, and minimum academic qualifications of O-levels and above.

Casino exclusion orders are issued by the NCPG under the Casino Control Act.

Samuel Ng, a member of the panel of assessors and executive director of Family Service Centre, said: „I don’t think this act alone can solve or eradicate this whole problem. I think what this act attempts to do is more to prevent or more to manage the problem so it will not escalate.

„At this time, we cannot anticipate the volume of applications, but my concern as a social worker is that we should not take it as a punitive measure, but rather as a preventive measure.

„One of the possible problems could be that it will create more family conflicts. Within the family dynamics, certain family members can use this Act as their weapon.“

The NCPG will launch an extensive public education campaign on casino exclusion next year.