Gambling too needs better control, not just smoking

Of late, I have been reading too many stories in the news of lucky souls winning big from different gaming companies.

Every now and then, someone would win big, ranging from a couple of millions to tens of millions.

So here is my question: how can lottery companies sustain themselves if the size and the number of jackpots dished out is getting bigger more frequently? Certainly, they can’t be paying out more than they receive from the bettors.

If gaming companies are creating more millionaires and at the same time creating more wealth for themselves, may I know who is making this possible?

The only way I can think of is by enticing more bettors and/or increasing the frequency of draws each week to bring in the revenue.

The reality is many have lost money in betting. Some have become compulsive to the extent of affecting their wellbeing as well as that of their families. With frequent news of people winning big spreading across the news media, I think many more will be unwittingly attracted to it.

I am writing this piece not on moralistic or religious grounds. I believe it is quite harmless if we occasionally dabble to try our luck. The problem is many may not know the limit. Coupled with “promises” of big gains, some could be enticed into this unhealthy habit unsuspectingly.

The issue really is whether “extra cash” is available to dabble in lotteries or whether cash that is needed for food, rent, medical care, education and saving for rainy days and old age is used for gambling.

I am aware of the right of individuals to choose the way they live. However, if they can’t make ends meet due to excessive betting and other forms of gambling, their problems are no longer theirs alone. Many of these problems may eventually fall on the government and society at large.

The government has done the right thing by controlling and regulating smoking. Hopefully, some positive outcomes will emerge because smoking not only affects health but also drains the income of individuals.

The same goes for excessive betting and gambling. There are probably lots of unintended consequences.

However, I accept that I may not win an argument with those who choose to smoke, bet and gamble. They may tell me off for intruding into their personal lives.

Be that as it may, I think it is the job of the government to control and regulate endemic betting and gambling, especially those done through subtle promotions and enticement as in the case of lottery companies publishing news of big winnings every now and then.

Would the Pakatan Harapan government be different from Barisan Nasional when it comes to policies on economic wellbeing and subtle exploitation?

Sometimes we may not be aware that cigarette and gaming companies want to inculcate in us the desire to exert our “fundamental right” to smoke and gamble. We are made to think we are asserting our right, being smart and independent, when in actual fact we are being exploited.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.