Here’s Why Going To A Jackpot Room Is Worse Than Visting The Casino
Think of the scourge of gambling and the two glitzy flagship casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sand immediately come to mind. However, the recent Tiong Bahru Football Club controversy spotlighted the low-key but highly-profitable world of neighbourhood jackpot operators. In this article, we explore the reasons why these jackpot rooms might cause even greater societal harm than casinos at the integrated resorts.
Documents acquired by the Straits Times revealed that most of the annual revenue of $36.8 million were generated by just 29 jackpot machines at Tiong Bahru Football Club. That’s more than $100,000 of daily revenue.
Unfortunately, most patrons of these neighbourhood casinos are retirees and elderly people. Gambling is particularly devious for this demographic of individuals because unlike people who hold jobs, every dollar these retirees lose directly takes money out of their pockets that could be used for their living and medical expenses, with no means in which to replenish these financial resources, except to borrow.
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Plenty of Time to Lose Money
Since these retirees do no have work, if they do not have family/community roles like taking care of the grandchildren, the time they can spend gambling is virtually limitless. They can literally gamble every day and any day the clubs are open. With each pull of the lever (or as is more common these days, with each press of the button) money disappears quickly into the abyss. It would only be a matter of time before one whittle down one’s retirement funds.
Unlike integrated resorts, a trip to these neighbourhood jackpot joints can be mere minutes away. Furthermore, there isn’t any $100 levy imposed on Singaporeans per visit to these jackpot rooms. Though one needs to be a “member” of the establishment first, barriers to membership is so low, they are virtually non-existent. Instant approvals and token fees anyone? Like integrated resorts, for those who run out of money at the jackpot machines, ATMs and cashiers are in close vicinity to allow one to purchase credits for further gambling. How deviously convenient.
Retirees are particularly susceptible to this. It is natural for people to feel cherished, respected, and useful. Neighbourhood jackpot rooms give that feeling. Even if retirees are alone at home or looked down upon when they are walking the streets, in the jackpot rooms, all is forgotten. There, they are served food and drinks, greeted by ushers, and accorded respect as a punter. Even more motivation to bring large wads of cash and be seen as a ‘high roller’.
The sense of achievement and acceptance by others when one wins is a powerful feeling, perhaps as captivating as winning the money itself. If you gamble often enough, eventually, one would see others hitting the jackpot. It reinforces the idea that: “If they can win, I can too!” In addition to the monetary prize, neighbourhood jackpot rooms offer the bonus ‘prize’ of pats on the back and the ‘respect’ of fellow regulars.
Sense of Control
In the casino, card games have fixed mathematical probabilities, which allow players to be aware of their risks going in, and adjust their play accordingly. Modern jackpot games are designed to give players this same a sense of control. Besides the betting amount and deciding on the moment to pull the lever, one is regularly presented with choices on which virtual card to flip for bonuses and other gimmicks. This illusion of control gives players the feeling that somehow their ‘skill’ can influence the outcome, and after being fed with near wins or small payouts, players continue to pour money into the jackpot slots, thinking that their ‘big break’ is just round the corner.
If you know someone in your life who might have a gambling problem, you can visit the National Council on Problem Gambling website for resources. Its true that no one is ‘forced’ to patronise neighbourhood jackpot rooms islandwide, but perhaps we can help our retirees build a better sense of family and community, to give them a sense of belonging and accomplishments doing value-creative, meaningful pursuits. And that’s the way we all emerge as winners.
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