A letter to the editor

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Dear Editor,

 

In recent years, there had been an increasing number of family problems caused by the problem gamblers in the family in Hong Kong. The general public is showing a real concern towards this worrying situation. I am writing to express my opinions about the rises in problem gamblers in Hong Kong.

 

Let us first take an in-depth look at why more people get addicted to gambling and how it affects the family relationship.

 

First and foremost, with the advance of technology, people can easily access the Internet and gamble online. The gambling websites provide numerous forms of gambling, for example, blackjet, baccarat, roulette etc., even some of them are restricted in Hong Kong enterainment resorts. Therefore, people may find that they can enjoy a higher degree of freedom in terms of gambling on the Internet. In addition, more and more people are attracted to gamble online, where they can play the games with players from different countries. Once the gamblers could access the Internet, they would like to play the game, the more time they spend on gambling, the more likely they are addicted to gambling.

 

Furthermore, due to the proximity of Hong Kong and Macau, the City of Casino, as well as the well-knit transportation network between two cities, Hong Kongers nowadays can conveniently visit the Casino resorts in Macau and experience the gambling atmosphere there. Besides, people may see that patronizing casinos with friends as part of their social life. They believe that gambling is a way to nourish friendship and, in the meantime, they do not want to be isolated by friends due to peer pressure. In some extreme cases, gamblers may even make daily trips to Macau, building up compulsive gambling behavior of them.

 

People may win for a large amount of money sometimes. However, gambling is risky and it is easy for gamblers to end up losing all the savings, like many people do. Family members are usually the one whom the gamblers seek help from. To pay off all debts, the personal savings, pensions and premises of the family members may be exhausted. Also, it is possible for the family members to take out a mortgage to repay loan sharks. However, if people default on their mortgage repayments one day, their home may be repossessed. All of the above can definitely worsen the family relationship due to distrust, leading to disharmony, and may even tear the family apart.

 

It is clear that gambling is a real danger to gamblers themselves and the family relationship. Based on the above, I believe that preventive measures can be taken.

 

The first step to address the gambling problem is the detection by family members. Each member in the family can observe one another to see whether they have abnormal behavior such as accessing gambling websites, borrowing money from relatives, friends, or even loan sharks. By doing so, gamblers could obtain immense support from family members, whom the gamblers have the closest relationships with, as soon as possible.

 

Apart from detection, education is an effective weapon against gambling. By raising the awareness of the seriousness of gambling, compulsive gamblers could be more alert to the dangers of becoming addicted, and the misconception, that gambling is simply a form of entertainment and that it is hard for people to become hooked on gambling, could be shattered. The elder generations in the family should shoulder their responsibilities to take some actions for the younger ones.

 

However, if problem gamblers have already existed in the family, the family members should spare no pains and often a helping hand. Seeking professional advice from anti-gambling organizations and social workers could be a means to help gamblers give up their bad habit. In extreme cases, psychological therapy could be provided to achieve better outcome. Indisputably, support and encouragement from family members could genuinely motivate gamblers to give up betting. Let us extend our tremendous effort and join our hands to give our helping hands to the problem gamblers in society.

 

Yours faithfully, 

Jo Jo Lau