Ever since Singapore’s first casino is built 4 years ago, the number of pawn shops has increased 62% from 114 in 2008 to 185 in 2012. The total value of pawns has also reached $4.9 billion in 2011, a record 75% jump as compared to 2010’s $2.8 billion. The correlation between the timing when the casinos were built and the increased number of urgent loans made from the pawnshops signifies the social damage that resulted from gambling.
The social cost of building the casinos were insignificant in the present PAP administration’s eyes as compared to the PAP old guards belonging to the former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s cohort. Lee Kuan Yew ever said: “Casinos would be allowed in Singapore only over my dead body”. The past PAP cohort were strongly anti-gambling and worried that prostitution, money-laundering, addiction and other social problems will be too much social costs to bear despite the obvious GDP growth gambling brings.
This of course has been effectively reversed by the present Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who said that the casinos will generate the kind of “buzz” found in London, New York and Paris. As social problems are usually well-covered by the PAP-controlled mainstream media, it is hard to measure the social impact of the casinos while on the other hand, a record GDP can be charted every year to boast about PAP’s competent governance in the face of democratic nations from the Europe and America. Just last month, the mainstream media Straits Times was trumpeting about Singapore’s highest GDP per capita in the world [Source], and of course such bragging rights wouldn’t have come without making Singaporeans pay for the social costs for the casinos.