The Remote Gambling Bill in Singapore, which was recently proposed in parliament, aims to control online gambling. This can be achieved in 3 aspects – restricting access to gambling websites, blocking transfer of funds via these sites, and banning gambling advertisements.
According to The Straits Times, “a Home Affairs Ministry survey of 1000 Internet users last year found that almost 3 in 10 had gambled remotely at least once” within the year. In a bid to better address the situation, an online portal providing help and support to gamblers is in the pipeline.
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) have collaborated in this effort to address problem gambling. In its final stage of pilot testing, the site, www.nams.sg would soon allow users to communicate with paracounsellors 24/7, complementing the existing 24-hour helpline service by the council.
Although not certified as counsellors, the paracounsellors are adept in listening skills and empathy. The service is available through webchat, reaching out to gamblers who may prefer some level of anonymity. A spokesman for the NCPG, said in an article by The Straits Times that the service is being developed to provide greater “accessibility and availability of help” to problem gamblers.
As some may not want face-to-face help, according to addictions expert Munidasa Winslow, the webchat would “appeal to the young” – the tech-savvy generation. Older gamblers often rely on the hotline available instead of typing. However, experts also pointed out that face-to-face counselling would always be the more effective option.
Ms Deborah Queck, Executive Director of Blessed Grace Social Services, which has a gambling recovery centre, said to The Straits Times that face-to-face counselling proves to be more helpful because there is the added opportunity for counsellors to conduct follow-up sessions and meet the addict’s family to encourage them to provide support to the addict. She also pointed out that many gamblers don’t seek help. Therefore, the webchat could act as a platform to offer further help and support to gamblers, which includes support groups.
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Help for people addicted to gambling is highly accessible in Singapore. And with this new webchat, things are made much easier. If you recognise the following signs in yourself, there are plenty of options for seeking help.
The following information was taken from the National Addictions Management Service.
Signs That You Have A Gambling Addiction:
- Gambling more often
- Gambling for longer periods of time
- Gambling with larger amounts of money
- Gambling in spite of the problems it is causing you at home and at work
- Gambling to escape from emotional problems, worries or frustrations
- Telling lies to cover up your gambling
Signs That Your Loved One Has A Gambling Addiction:
- Spending more time and money on gambling
- Borrowing money to gamble
- Stealing money to gamble
- Having unexplained debts or financial problems
- Having unexplained absences from work or school
- Missing important events to gamble
- Feeling restless or irritable when not gambling
If you or your loved ones display any of these signs, help is available. You can seek help and treatment for your gambling addiction at NAMS. To make an appointment, call 6389 2200, or the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1800-6-668-668 for more information.