"The Chinese are inveterate gamblers", said MM Lee Kuan Yew, when the setting up of resort casinos for Singapore, along the lines and scope of those in Las Vegas and Genting, was approved. True to fashion, Singapore's first casino was opened to the public on the first day of the Lunar New Year, at the auspicious hour of 12:18pm. Auspicious for who, you wonder? For the operator, which in this case is Malaysia's Genting group, or for the punters, the gamblers? Even the God of Fortune will find it hard to give its fortune to both the Operator and the gambler at the same table at the same time.You either win the money or you lose it. There is no third way about it.
But of course, some gamblers will tell you that they take pleasure in the act of gambling, and therefore losing any or all of their money is no different from dining at an expensive restaurant. You get treated like a king. You get served (I heard that free food was offered to one and all), you can drink in the den's ambiance, savour the atmosphere which must be very different from queuing in the neighbourhood 4-D and Toto counters). If you want to gamble, do so in style and comfort, they say. So there was a reported bee-line for the entrance of Resort World Sentosa's (RWS) newly minted casino, never mind that you lose a S$100 to the Entrance Levy (tax) before you pass the door into the casino. But that money doesn't belong to the Casino Operators, it is money made by the Singapore Government in the name of gambling addiction*. It is probably a good idea to levy the fees to fund the programmes meant to correct the anticipated problem behaviour and chronic habits that gamblers would pick up as a result of accessing the gambling facilities blessed by the government. Sounds convoluted? Yeah, but gambling is straightforward - either you win or you lose. And for the Operators to be around, gamblers must lose more than they win. That's simple Mathematics, although the Math underlying the Game of Chance may not be understood by most people.
This is indeed a milestone, as our Institute of Mental Health (IMH) prepares to admit its first patients in the new category of big time problem gamblers.
God help us, in more ways than one.
*p.s. If 75,000 people got into the casino on the first 2 days, the government itself would have raked in a cool $7.5M. Now that's what I call good business and easy money.