Responsible gaming ambassadors
At Singapore Pools' LiveWire venues, Responsible Gaming Ambassadors like Mr Manjit Gill, 56, Mr Calvin Lim, 38, and Mr Steven Tan, 53, circulate among the patrons and keep a lookout for those who may need to be reminded not to play beyond limits.
The RG Ambassadors outreach is part of Singapore Pools' initiatives, as the industry pioneer for responsible gaming, to provide a safe and trusted environment that protects customers from the consequences of problem gambling.
The atmosphere is usually lively and filled with excitement whenever there is a near-miss or a goal scored.
While patrons watch the telecast of sports events and bet live, Mr Manjit, Mr Lim and Mr Tan are there watching over them.
They are among the 10 Responsible Gaming (RG) Ambassadors working with Singapore Pools to spot individuals who may need to be reminded of setting a limit in their game play, and give guidance on where to turn to for counselling help.
For the past 48 years since its formation, Singapore Pools has been strongly committed to being a safe and trusted gaming operator.
It started the RG Ambassador programme five years ago, and both Mr Manjit and Mr Tan have been working as ambassadors since then. Both are certified counsellors.
Said Mr Manjit: "I am a certified counsellor in gambling addiction, and substance abuse addiction. I also have a Specialist Diploma in Counselling Psychology."
"These training put me in good stead to spot signs of problem gambling among the patrons and to approach them despite the sensitivity of the matter."
Equally qualified, Mr Tan has been a Gazetted Volunteer Probation Officer with Probation and Community Rehabilitation Service of the Ministry of Social and Family Development for the last 19 years.
Mr Lim, who works at Singapore Pools Sports Betting Operations, went through a series of training by both in-house and external professionals focusing on problem gambling and counselling skills.
"I have seen the devastating effects on individuals and families when the game becomes an addiction. If we can keep a lookout and spot potential problems early, we can prevent individuals from falling down the slippery slope. I am happy I am able to play a part to refer them for help."
Mr Manjit revealed that it is not easy to spot someone "needing my help without knowing their background".
"If I suspect a patron of having a gambling problem, I start by asking him two questions: 'Once you start gambling, can you walk away?' and 'Do you feel compelled to gamble till your last dollar, increasing the bet amount in a bid to recover money lost previously?'" he said.
Mr Tan said if they reject him, "I will walk away calmly and choose another appropriate time to try to talk to him".
Mr Lim takes the friendly approach.
"I usually engage the regulars in casual conversation. It is important to befriend and build rapport with them to understand their situation and explore if they are facing any challenges," he said.
And only when the person approached is receptive would the RG Ambassadors help him understand that feeling desperate to recoup losses is a red flag.
"I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to play responsibly - to bet within one's means. Set a time and money limit. Betting is a leisure activity, don't chase losses. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I'm here to help." Mr Manjit added.