Thursday, August 04, 2005

Late take on the Casino, I mean IR, issue

I should state this first: I was (and still am) fervently against the casino proposal on Sentosa (It became TWO casinos later. Duh.). I wrote this back in March this year:

It was only recently that I've been able to pinpoint exactly why I am against the casino proposal. I've spoken to numerous people on this and the views I've heard are quite divergent. It's like a reflection of how split our nation has become over this issue.

"We already have so many forms of gambling like 4D, horseracing, Toto? What harm can one more do?"

"Gambling is bad in itself, so we don't need another form of it."

"We're letting the money of those people who will gamble anyway flow to other countries' economies. Might as well keep it here."

"Crime rates will rise for sure."

And perhaps the funniest one of the lot, "You're against the casino ah? I always thought you'll be for it, since you're an actuary (not true, I haven't completed my exams yet!) and therefore statistically inclined. So surely you're for it?"

No doubt readers from the actuarial line will chuckle at this remark and feel a little maligned at the same time. So we can add "affinity for gambling and casino" to the long list of stereotypes applied to our often misunderstood line of work that is actuarial. *Sigh*

The basic assumption I make is, Asians in general enjoy gambling. I suppose narrowing it down to just the Chinese might be more accurate. I also feel that Westerners seem more likely (key words) to treat gambling more as a form of entertainment and walk into casinos fully expecting to lose a certain amount of money but also expecting to derive a certain amount of entertainment from it. The Chinese, on the other hand, seem more likely (key words again) to treat gambling as a way to earn a fast buck. Just observe the long queues at Singapore Pools for Toto. The higher the payout, the longer the queues, the crazier the size of bets.

The main premise upon which I voice my disapproval to the casino is what I will term as "bet turnaround time". Best explained by an example. We all know 4D is now available on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. So the "bet turnaround time" for the Wednesday edition (Duh! What a "clean" word to use!) is three days, i.e. if one places a single bet on Monday, he will have to wait till Wednesday evening for the results and that is when the bet ends, a total of three days. On a similar note, the "bet turnaroundtime" for the Saturday and Sunday editions will be three and one days respectively. One can observe that the "bet turnaround time" for Toto is similarly in days.

I think some of you are beginning to see what I am trying to get athere. But there is more.

What about horseracing and events like mahjong at home, you might ask? Now for that, I introduce another notion, "occasion turnaround time". Horse betting occurs but once a week and your family mahjong occurs infrequently (I am not considering hardcore gamblers here, nor those of you out there who enjoy frequent games of mahjong. You know who you are!).

So you see, with a casino, we will be introducing a form of gambling with a very short "bet turnaround time", literally seconds or minutes,and a potentially very short "occasion turnaround time" as well, since the casino is open 24/7 and the individual decides when to go. So why is that bad?

The amounts placed on bets in the forms of gambling considered here are broadly comparable. In fact, I am inclined to feel the average betsize in casinos is larger. As such, under the present scheme of things, an avid gambler might make 10-12 bets a week and lose most of them. With a casino, the same gambler might make up to many hundreds of bets a week (say he makes his way down to it a couple of times a week after work and on the weekend too) and lose the majority though not as high a proportion of them (chances of winning on a bet in the casino will be generally higher). The net result (of losses) of the latter scenario will still be many times, if not exponentially, worse than the present situation.

I am worried. I am worried about the people who are on the edge (relatively frequent gamblers in 4D, Toto etc but cannot afford to give up the time from work to go to neighbouring countries' casinos) and who will be pushed over when the casino comes around. By "on the edge", I mean financially.

So that's it. That's the reason for my vociferous disapproval to the casino. Sounds a little mathematical but I hope you get the general drift.

I know posting this now will not make any difference. But I still want to voice my disapproval.

Akan Datang: some of my past memories connected to music

239 days to go.


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