National Council on Problem Gambling
by Lim, Puay Ling
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) was appointed by the government in August 2005 as part of Singapore's national framework to address the issue of problem gambling. Its functions include raising public awareness of problem gambling. It also has the authority to bar certain people from the upcoming casinos under the Casino Control Act.
During the parliament session on 18 April 2005, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the Cabinet's decision to allow the development of integrated resorts (IRs) with casinos in Singapore. At the same time, he acknowledged the social implications of having the IRs, particularly the possible increase in problem gambling, and said that the government will set up a national framework to address the issue. This was to include the setting up of a national council on gambling and programmes to treat and counsel gamblers. On 31 August 2005, the NCPG started its first two-year term.
Under the Casino Control Act, the NCPG may have up to 20 members including the chairman, all appointed by the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. The council members have so far included representatives from the corporate, legal, clinical treatment, counselling, research and religious fields.
The functions of the council are to:
- Provide advice and feedback to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) on public education programmes on problem gambling.
- Decide on funding applications for preventive and rehabilitative programmes.
- Assess and advise the government on the effectiveness of treatment, counselling and rehabilitative programmes.
- Decide on applications for exclusion of persons from the casinos.
Casino Exclusion Orders
The council has the authority to make, vary and revoke casino exclusion orders and it is required to maintain a list of people who are barred from the casinos through these exclusion orders. There are three types of exclusions: voluntary self-exclusion, third-party exclusion and family exclusion.
The council automatically approves applications for self-exclusion, and the ban may be lifted after a minimum period of one year once the individual informs the council of his intention to revoke the order. Undischarged bankrupts and those who are on social assistance programmes funded by the government are also automatically excluded. However, the exclusion order can be revoked only after the individual has been discharged from bankruptcy or is no longer receiving Public Assistance or Special Grant.
Under the family exclusion scheme, family members may apply to stop their immediate relatives (spouses, children, parents and siblings) from entering the casino if their problem gambling has caused serious harm. A person is regarded as having caused serious harm if he has gambled irresponsibly for not less than three months without care to the needs and welfare of his family. Family exclusion orders may be revoked only after one year. The NCPG started to accept family exclusion applications on 1 April 2009. As of end-August 2009, it had issued seven exclusion orders - two were applications made by wives against their husbands, two by sisters against their brothers, and three by parents against their sons.
Highlights of NCPG Initiatives
One of the NCPG's key initiatives was the formation of an international advisory panel in 2007 comprising international experts to help the council develop expertise in research and services to understand and manage problem gambling and other addictions.
The council also partnered with MediaCorp TV8 in December 2006 on a drama series titled A Million Treasures or Bai Wan Bao to help raise public awareness of the harms of excessive gambling. Starring Li Nanxing, Zoe Tay and Pan Ling Ling, it featured a successful hotel chef who lost everything due to gambling but recovered with the help and support of family and friends.
In September 2006, the council commissioned two social services agencies, Care Corner Counselling Centre and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society, to provide community-based counselling services under a pilot programme. A training framework was developed to train the counsellors to effectively assess and refer problem gamblers for specialised help services.
18 Apr 2005 : Government announced plan to set up a national gambling council.
31 Aug 2005 : Government appointed the NCPG.
10 Oct 2005 : New NCPG website was launched.
7 Jan - 11 Feb 2006 : Info-educational TV series Bet Your Life was aired on MediaCorp TV8, highlighting the harms of problem gambling and the help services available.
Feb 2006 : Commencement of public consultation exercise on casino exclusion procedures.
Sep 2006 : Care Corner Counselling Centre and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society were commissioned to pilot community-based problem gambling services.
Dec 2006 : NCPG partnered with MediaCorp on a new drama series A Million Treasures.
Jun 2007 : Submission of recommendations on casino exclusion procedures to the MCYS.
Jul 2007 : Inaugural Singapore Problem Gambling Conference was held.
Dec 2007 : Consolidation of problem gambling hotlines under the Institute of Mental Health's Community Addiction Management Programme.
Feb 2008 : Launch of NCPG's 2008 integrated media campaign with a TV advertisement featuring a little girl with her piggy bank.
May 2008 : NCPG approved funding for a seniors' problem gambling ambassadors' programme by YAH! College, a community college to promote lifelong learning among senior citizens.
Nov 2008 : Public consultation on casino exclusion measures.
1 Apr 2009 : NCPG began accepting applications for family exclusion orders.
15 Sep 2009 : Parliament passed the Casino Control (Amendment) Bill for changes to the application procedures for exclusion orders.
Lim Puay Ling
Attorney General's Chambers. (2006). Casino Control Act. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from Singapore Statutes Online website: http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/
How exclusion orders work. (2009, September 23). The Straits Times. Retrieved October 2, 2009, from Factiva database.
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. (2005, August 31). Government appoints National Council on Problem Gambling [Press release]. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from http://www.stopproblemgambling.org.sg/press_release/corp_press_story.asp.htm
Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (2005, April 18). Ministerial statement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 18 Apr 2005: Proposal to develop integrated resorts [Press release]. Retrieved October 2, 2009, from STARS database.
Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (2005, April 18). Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, on integrated resort, 18 April 2005, Parliament House [Press release]. Retrieved October 2, 2009, from STARS database.
National Council on Problem Gambling. (2005, October 10). National Council on problem gambling kicks off public education efforts with new website [Press release]. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from http://app.stopproblemgambling.org.sg/data/press_release/10%20oct%202005_20051010.pdf
National Council on Problem Gambling. (2006). Annual report 05/06. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 306.482095957 NCPGSA-[AR])
National Council on Problem Gambling. (2006, February 15). National Council on Problem Gambling seeks public views on exclusion measures [Press release]. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from http://app.stopproblemgambling.org.sg/data/press_release/20060215_20060215.pdf
National Council on Problem Gambling. (2007). Annual report 2006/2007. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 306.482095957 NCPGSA-[AR])
National Council on Problem Gambling. (2008). Annual report 07/08. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 306.482095957 NCPGSA-[AR])
National Council on Problem Gambling. (2009, April 1). NCPG ready to accept applications for family exclusion orders [Press release]. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from http://app.stopproblemgambling.org.sg/data/press_release/ncpg_pr_family%20exclusions%20_1apr2009_20090401.pdf
Ng, A. (2009, September 16). Novel suggestions for exclusion orders. TODAY. Retrieved September 16, 2009, from Factiva database.
Tan, T. (2009, June 20). 14 signed up for casino ban by their families. The Straits Times. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from Factiva database.
Basu, R. (2009, August 29). More gambling addicts seek help. The Straits Times. Retrieved October 2, 2009, from Factiva database.
Lim, W. C. (2009, September 16). Changes made to Casino Control Act. The Straits Times. Retrieved September 16, 2009, from Factiva database.
Sim, A. (2007, June 15). More resources to tackle casino exclusions. The Business Times. Retrieved August 28, 2009, from Factiva database.
Yap, S. (2006, October 3). Mahjong, 4-D not gambling, says 1 in 2. The Straits Times. Retrieved on February 8, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Law and government>>Regulatory role>>Gambling
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National Council on Problem Gambling (Singapore)