Hong Kong Newspaper Says Singapore’s Lack Of Entertainment Drove Migrant Workers To Casinos 

First they called our trains a laughing stock, now this.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) is criticising our country again.

On Sunday (5 Nov), they published an article talking about the increase in migrant workers becoming gambling addicts and racking up huge debts at our casinos.

Except this time they blamed discrimination and lack of “alternative entertainment options” in Singapore as the reasons for what happened.

Migrant workers becoming addicted to gambling

In 2010, the casinos in Singapore were opened to much controversy.


Making it clear that the casinos were primarily used to attract tourists, the Government imposed a $100 entrance fee for Singaporeans.

This, however, meant that anyone else could enter for free.

Which resulted in migrant workers becoming addicted to gambling — even costing one $15,000 in just 2 years.

Or roughly 10 times his monthly income.

Some even resulted to sleeping on the boardwalks of the promenade to await for the MRT services to commence.

I will take the taxi back if I win money. If I don’t win, I will just sleep here. Many people do that.

Said one of the workers who had work in the morning.

Singaporeans not looking out for their social needs

Instead of focusing on those who choose to gamble their monies away however, the article cites Singaporeans as the reason why the migrant workers got addicted.


NUS’ Dr Tan Lai Yong, Outreach and Community Engagement Director at the College of Alice and Peter Tan stated that the workers might’ve started visiting the casinos due to the lack of activities available to them here where they can go to with their heads held high.

If a group of them [goes] to a public swimming pool or a library, people may question their presence. But not at the casinos.

He also mentioned that the society should look out for their social needs as well.

This means providing them with more recreation options by including them in more activities — to prevent them from falling into vice activities.


Though to his credit, he has been volunteering at a charity providing medial care and assistance to said migrant workers.

So he probably knows more about the issue than us journalists do.

Bored and frustrated with nothing to do

Another reason given for their addiction was the lack of activities Singapore as a whole had to offer.

A really boring place to be, apparently.


Speaking to the Editor-In-Chief of Singapore’s only Bengali newspaper, AKM Mohsin stated that it wasn’t uncommon for workers to be racked up in debt and stop sending money home as a result.

They are bored and frustrated, they have nothing to do and no entertainment. This is why they go gambling. When they win money, it makes them feel good.

At least several people seem to agree with that notion, however.



While they aren’t completely wrong, Singapore does have its share of fun things to do as well.

Check out this website for more information about the things our country has to offer.

Who’s truly to blame?

Are we truly to blame for discriminating against the migrant workers? Or is it simply a matter of their own choices to gamble?

Whatever the answer, the casinos always win in the end.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Featured image from Flickr, SCMP and Facebook.