Sep 25, 2013

    More bankrupts due to gambling and speculation

    THE number of Singaporeans in their mid-30s to mid-40s who were declared bankrupt due to gambling and speculative investments is on the rise.

    The latest figures from the Ministry of Law show that the number of new bankrupts aged 35 to 44 each year has remained relatively constant over the last three years.

    But the percentage of those who cite gambling and speculative investments as reasons for their insolvency has risen from 4.8 per cent in 2010 to 11 per cent last year.

    There were 572 new bankrupts last year, of whom 11 per cent cited speculative investments, such as in shares, and gambling - including 4D, Toto, horse racing, sports gambling and gaming at casinos here and overseas - as causes for their bankruptcy.

    The figures were 8.4 per cent out of 522 in 2011, and 4.8 per cent out of 523 in 2010.

    Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) general manager Tan Huey Min said that of those aged 31 to 40 counselled by the organisation, a quarter had gambling issues.

    She added that the percentage of people in this age group with gambling issues fluctuates between 20 and 30 per cent each year, with the number around 180 last year.

    She said bankruptcy is detrimental to employment, career prospects and the ability to take out loans in general. But younger adults may be hit harder as there is a higher likelihood that they will need to apply for a loan, such as for their first flat, she said.

    Another group of new bankrupts who are increasingly citing gambling and speculative investments for their insolvency are those aged 45 to 54, with 11.1 per cent out of 568 last year, up from 6.5 per cent out of 448 in 2011.

    The CCS counselled 233 people aged 51 and above for gambling problems last year.

    Mr Seah Kian Peng, who heads the Government Parliamentary Committee for Social and Family Development, said the figures highlight the importance of financial planning and literacy.

    "If you go into things that are more speculative, it could mean higher rewards, but we must not forget that the risks are also higher," he said.

    "Also, there is always the lure of striking it rich and the lure of going for shortcuts to success, but unfortunately it does not happen often. Gambling and casinos for social entertainment is fine, but not as a means to get rich, because the odds are against you."