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Young, vivacious...and into gambling

  Friday, 20 l 08 l 2010 Source:  My Paper   
By: Joy Fang

More women seeking help for gambling habit

THEY are young, independent and vivacious women who share a common bond: They get their kicks from gambling.

The strategy of these women? To place their bets, but to not let gambling – or their winnings – consume them. Or so they hope.

gambling addictionAdministrative manager Dawn Lim, 37, said she places bets “for the fun of it”, and to see if she is lucky enough to win.

Ms Lim started dabbling in 4D and Toto 10 years ago, and began betting on the World Cup eight years ago. She usually goes by herself to place bets.

She buys 4D and Toto once every two months, spending about $5 to $10. But for the recent World Cup, she spent more than $300, winning $20 on top of the amount she bet.

According to Ms Lim, women like her are empowered to gamble, thanks to society’s everchanging gender roles.

“There are more woman Members of Parliament, more women becoming chief executives, and more women taking on guys’ roles. We strive on being equal with the men,” she said, adding that it’s the same with gambling, which used to be dominated by men.

And these days, no one really bats an eyelid at a woman gambler as social stigmas change.

But there’s a flipside to this, of course. In an article in The Straits Times last month, the National Addictions Management Service (Nams) said there was an increasing number of problem gamblers seeking medical treatment and counselling.

They now make up 17 per cent of the patients at its clinic, up from 10 per cent in 2008 and 5 per cent in 2007.

The number of people applying to be barred from casinos has also shot up. The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) received 1,546 self-exclusion applications as of June – an increase of about 1,300 since February.

Counsellors told my paper that they have seen a spike in the number of women seeking help for their gambling habit.

Mr Charles Lee, senior counsellor at Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre, said that from 2008 to last year, there was a 37.5 per cent increase in female clients consulting him for help on gambling issues.

The figure surged for the first eight months of this year, and he has already seen what was equivalent to the total number of female clients for the whole of last year.

Mr Lee attributed the increasing number of females seeking help to the public-education efforts of the NCPG.

For instance, it kicked off a World Cup “No Penalty Campaign” in June to raise awareness of soccer gambling.

Dr Guo Song, a consultant from Nams at the Institute of Mental Health, said that woman gamblers made up 21 per cent of all new problem gambling cases between April and June this year.

They accounted for only 13 per cent in the same period last year. Most of his female patients are aged 40 and above.

Human-resource executive E. Goh, 25, is one woman who picked up the gambling habit this year.

She and her friends pool their bets so that their total winnings would be higher if they make it big.

Ms Goh usually spends about $11 on Toto once a month, but ups her bet when the prize money hits $3 million or more. She also splurged more than $500 on bets during the World Cup season this year.

“I don’t think gambling is wrong. It’s just another form of entertainment to me. As long as one has self-discipline, I don’t see any issue in doing it,” she said.

Have gambling problems? Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline on 1800-6-668-668.

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