TOTO Fever and Legalised Gambling: Good, Bad or Ugly?

by Augustine Low

Money, money, money. Always sunny. Who can resist a shot at instant riches?

That’s the beauty of Toto – the irresistible pull of buying into hope and happiness. And Toto fever heats up once again with the jackpot prize for Thursday 17 May hitting $8 million.

Queues snake out at so many Singapore Pools outlets – from 7-Eleven to sundry stores and supermarkets. Even children get exposed to gambling from a very young age because the all-pervasive Singapore Pools is a part of the Singapore story.

Every day, all year round, people make donations to Singapore Pools courtesy of Toto, 4D, football betting and Singapore Sweep. These donations, under the form of legalised betting, amount to billions of dollars a year.

Reports have indicated that Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club have a combined turnover of about $8 billion a year, before payout of winnings is taken into account.

That’s really, really big bucks! Singaporeans’ hard-earned cash! The poor keep betting on hopes of getting out of poverty while others chase a get-rich-quick dream.

All that money from Singapore Pools and Turf Club end up with the Tote Board, which is a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance. Part of it is directed to charitable and community causes.

To make matters worse, we also have online betting run by Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club since 2016. The two operators are exempted from the Remote Gambling Act, which outlaws online and phone gambling.

With the casinos, proliferation of Singapore Pools outlets and legalised online betting, gambling is more accessible than ever before. People’s passion for gambling, and their dreams of striking the lottery one fine day, are being milked for what it’s worth.

An astonishing $8 billion a year in turnover from legalised gambling, not counting the casinos! And growing by the year! Have we become a gambling nation? How many are throwing away their hard-earned money? Have many lives, how many families have been ruined?

Living in the hope of being an instant millionaire does take the monotony out of life. It’s not that bad if we lose our lunch money every now and then.

But the pitiful part is, there are those who go for broke and bet big money every week on every lottery out there. They end up losing till their pants drop.

Just remember that in state-sanctioned gambling, the state always wins.