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Got a Gambling Problem? 6 Steps You Must Take to Save Your Finances

An increasing number of Singaporeans are gambling. But, this is a perilous activity that could lead people to financial ruin. For those with the most severe gambling problem, we have prepared these tips that they should implement immediately to prevent a financial disaster for themselves and their families.

Over the past decade, gambling has becoming less problematic for Singaporeans as a whole. However, the recent news of a man losing S$80,000 while gambling in the last World Cup is a sober reminder of how dangerous and relevant gambling still is today. In fact, while surveys indicate that gambling addiction has gone down significantly, there are also anecdotal evidence from social services that contradict this, citing more addicts seeking help in the past few years. Some people may think gambling is an easy way to get rich. But, it is one of the easiest way to create a mountain of debt that will ruin you and your family. If you are having trouble controlling your gambling addiction, here are 6 steps you should take immediately.

An increasing number of people in Singapore have been seeking counsel with gambling problems

Ban Yourself from All Forms of Gambling

First and foremost, you should physically ban yourself from gambling of all forms. You can do so by applying for self-exclusion from casinos, online betting and jackpot machine rooms. It shouldn't be easy for anyone to realise just how bad and dangerous gambling is. However, gambling is called an addiction because addicts often can't contain their desire to make bets. If you can't prevent yourself from gambling, the only way you are going to stop is by making it impossible. In fact, there are almost 400,000 people who are excluded from casinos already, of which 24,379 were Singaporean citizens and PRs.

About 400,000 people have been banned from casinos in Singapore

Of course, there is still a danger that gambling addicts will find other illegal venues to continue their activities. But, we hope to deter such a possibility by informing them that doing so is not only a jailable offense in Singapore with hundreds thousands of dollars of fine, but also will most likely throw them into a world of criminals with much worse consequences. If you have a gambling problem, there is practically a 100% chance that your life will be ruined unless you stop immediately.

Tell Your Family and Friends About Your Problem

Once you've decided to quit the casino life, it is important to tell our loved ones about your problem. First, admitting your problem openly will help you strongly commit yourself to this initiative. Since people you care deeply about know about your plan, you will feel the peer pressure to succeed and fear the social shame should you fail to do so. Secondly, your family can also impose a "family exclusion" from gambling establishments on you to reinforce your ban. Lastly, they can help monitor you and your finances to keep you inline whenever you feel the temptation to return to your old ways.

Enlist Helplines of Counseling Services

Friends and family have your best interest at heart, but they may not lack the professional experience or expertise to help you overcome your problem. If your gambling problem is severe, we would recommend you to seek out help of professional organizations that have dealt with many gambling addicts over a long period of time. This is actually a fairly common practice with about 20,000 helpline calls and webchats received by the National Council on Problem Gambling each year.

About 20,000 people in Singapore call the National Council on Problem Gambling each year for help

If you are seeking professional help, there are many such services listed on the the National Council on Problem Gambling website, some of which we list below.

Hotline for Gambling Addiction Help

  • The National Problem Gambling Helpline: 1800-6668-668
  • National Addictions Management Service: 6732-6837
  • Likeside Family Services: 6265-6522
  • Gambling Therapy: 1800-7867-669
  • Blessed Grace Social Services: 8428-6377
  • The Cabin Singapore: 3158-9949

Replace Sketchy Loans with Bank Loans

If you have a gambling problem, you more than likely have already incurred some debt from loan sharks and moneylenders. This is an extremely dangerous financial move. These these lenders charge astronomical interest rates on your loans, your loan can, your loan can grow out of proportion extremely quickly if you don't pay them off immediately. Once the loan grows to an amount you can't repay, you and your family could even face various harassments and threats from the lenders.

Comparing Monthly Interest Rates of Personal Loan Lenders

To avoid such a situation, you should get a personal loan from a bank to immediately pay off your other "sketchy" debt. Bank personal loans cost a fraction of a loan from a loan shark, and can be used for any purposes ranging from vacations to paying off your casino debt. Not only that, banks typically only require you to make S$30,000 or more of annual income to qualify. Personal loans will still cost you, but they are going to be your best option to secure a large amount of funding quickly to pay off your dangerous debtors.

Delete Gambling from Your Life

Every habit has an identical 3-step pattern: reminder, routine and reward. Each time we encounter a stimulus, we take an action in order to get a reward we crave. In case of gambling, this could be hearing about an opportunity (reminder), making a bet (routine) and getting the dopamine rush as you wait for the result or even win (reward). Therefore, to stop gambling, you must delete everything that reminds you of gambling from your life. If you have friends that gamble with you, stop all communications with them. If you make bets on sports, stop watching sports. Gambling addiction is an extreme and dire problem that requires extreme solutions.

Build a New, Positive Habit

Studies have also shown that habits can't be deleted; they can only be replaced. Quitting gambling is a long-term lifestyle change that requires a lot of effort. Taking up another healthy habit like exercising that can satisfy your brain's needs for endorphin and dopamine could drastically increase your chance of success greatly. If done properly, investing your money with a rigorous research process and a thoughtful strategy could also be a good alternative to gambling.

Duckju Kang

Duckju (DJ) is the CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting, and investing. He previously worked in the financial services industry, including at such hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital. He graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.

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