Sunday 13 March 2011

If you can apply for self-exclusion from casinos, why not elsewhere?

Dear Resort World Sentosa (RWS),

Belated congratulations on being Singapore’s first integrated resort.

When the idea of opening a casino in Singapore was first proposed a few years ago, there was concern (as there still is) about problem gambling.

To address this concern, one safeguard that has been put in place is voluntary self-exclusion.

I find this to be a fascinating, almost paradoxical, concept.

So someone who likes to do something so much that he or she can’t stop doing it is expected to have the foresight and fortitude to allow someone else to legally bar him or her from doing that thing that he or she likes to do? How likely is that?

Yet, amazingly, by the end of last year, 3,519 people did have the foresight and fortitude to exclude themselves from the casinos here.

If self-exclusion works, then why isn’t it applied to other areas of human stupidity?

Why aren’t alcoholics excluding themselves from bars, fat people from buffets and horny Facebook users from Fiona Xie videos?

Which brings me to the purpose of my mail.

I wish to exclude myself from RWS – but not from the casino, which is why I cannot apply for the exclusion online at the National Council of Problem Gambling website and why I’m writing to you directly.

I’m applying for self-exclusion from the Battlestar Galactica ride at your Universal Studios theme park.

Being a fan of the TV show that the ride is named after - both the original series and the remake (Cylons rock!) - I had been looking forward to the re-opening of the ride since its closure 11 months earlier.

But the reason I’m excluding myself is not because I’m afraid I would be addicted to the high-speed thrills the ride has to offer.

No, I want to exclude myself from the Battlestar Galactica ride because I don’t want to risk being public humiliated when I can’t get on the ride due to my fatness.

This was what happened to Mr Christian Abellaneda, according to a New Paper report last week.

He was able to enjoy the ride in the morning. Then later the same day, he wanted to go again, but he couldn’t be secured into the seat.

He said he felt particularly insulted after a staff member told him he might have “expanded” after lunch.

I can empathise. My waist grows by one pants size after every meal and I don’t need anyone pointing that out. I have enough body image issues as it is.

So if I go anywhere near the Battlestar Galactica ride, I would like someone from RWS to direct me to the casino instead – using brute force if necessary.

I hope my application for self-exclusion is accepted. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
S M Ong

PS: I have already applied for self-exclusion from every buffet in town and anything involving Fiona Xie.

- Published in The New Paper 13 March 2011