In the recent survey of 2,300 Singaporeans conducted by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, it was found that 60 per cent among those earning under $1,000 gambled, up from 50 per cent in 2005.
Three-quarters of respondents started gambling as early as 24 or younger and most view gambling as a leisure activity. An increasing segment of the population is addicted to gambling, and may become ‘pathological’ gamblers. These are worrying trends as Singapore prepare for the launching of two integrated resorts with casinos by early 2010.
Worldwide, the casino gambling industry is estimated at a $50 billion business and growing. Why is it that gambling is so popular and addictive? Everyone, from the upper-class to those living in poverty are engaged in it.
To be sure, psychological and financial meaning of gambling differs between the economic classes. Higher income people view gambling as an entertainment and a means of socializing while the poor looks at it as a form of investment.
The latter has virtually no access to lucrative investment products of the exclusive rich-men’s club and gambling is seen as the only serious chance of transforming their lives. To them, it takes Lady Luck to smile once and they will have it made for life.
It is a well-established fact that people’s infatuation with gambling does not take into account statistics to determine the odds of winning, else few will be involved. Human behavior dictates that the heavy odds present attractive challenges instead of daunting prospects.
Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, attributed the gambler’s motivation to “overwhelming conceit which men have of their own abilities and their absurd presumption in their own good fortune.” His words described aptly the overconfidence of men 200 years ago and is equally applicable today.
To cure you of gambling addiction, I do have a useful suggestion here:
Whenever you feel like placing bets on 4D or Toto, put the money which is supposed to go to Singapore Pools into your piggy bank, at the end of one year, break open the bank and that is your first prize.