gambling in singapore NCPG Survey 2020

Gambling In Singapore – NCPG Survey 2020

While I was doing up the article on the expected values of different gambling games in Singapore, I came across a 2020 survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling. I decided that the survey deserves its own blog post.

This is the 6th survey on the gambling participation of Singapore residents administered every 3 years. The next survey should be released in 2024.

Since there were various Covid-19 control measures (betting outlets & casinos were closed) in 2020, survey participants were asked about their gambling experience in 2019 instead of in the past 12 months. If you are interested in the full survey, you can check it out here.

Take note that the survey is based on what the respondents think and not what they actually do. Additionally, the statistics are based on 3,000 respondents and might not be exactly representative of all Singapore residents. Despite reaffirming that all answers are confidential, respondents might not want to be overly truthful as gambling and especially problem gambling is being judged by society.

Here are several findings in the survey that I find interesting.

Gambling Demographics

  • 44% of Singapore residents above the age of 18 participated in gambling in 2019
  • 53% of Chinese and 53% of male respondents gambled in 2019
  • The higher the age group, the higher the gambling participation rate (18-29 – 38%, 60 and above – 47%)
  • 37% of respondents with zero personal income gamble
  • Taoism (69%), Buddhism(60%) and those with no religion (52%) have a high gambling participation rate
  • Christianity (34%) and Hinduism (30%) have a relatively low gambling participation rate
  • Islam (6%) has the lowest gambling participation rate

Gambling Habits & Perceptions

  • The most popular gambling games are 4D (34%), TOTO (31%) and Singapore Sweep (17%).
  • The median amount bet monthly is S$15
  • 89% of respondents bet S$100 and below a month
  • 0.3% of respondents bet above S$1,000 a month
  • 1% of respondents with no income bet between S$501 – S$1000 a month
  • Most people start gambling with 4D (59%), TOTO (17%) and social gambling (16%)
  • 78% of respondents start regularly gambling with 4D
  • Many respondents treat 4D (39%), TOTO (39%), Singapore Sweep (41%) and social gambling 55%) as leisure instead of gambling
    • Gambling – risking an amount for a return
    • Leisure – for fun
  • Gamblers are more likely than non-gamblers to regard gambling as leisure activities

Probable Problem & Pathological Gambling

  • 1.2% of respondents are probable problem (1%) and pathological (0.2%) gamblers.
  • Probable pathological & problem gamblers’ median monthly betting amount is S$100. In comparison, the median monthly betting amount for all gamblers is only S$15.
  • Sports betting (23.4%), table games in cruises/overseas (23.4%) and horse racing (15.4%) have a higher percentage of gamblers with poor self-control.
  • Gamblers with poor self-control were significantly more likely to encounter negative outcomes as compared to “normal” gamblers
Negative Outcomes Due To Gambling Gamblers Without Poor Self-Control Gamblers With Poor Self-Control
Regretted the way they gambled their money 5% 47%
Problems with paying bills & living expenses 1% 6%
Emotional problems 0% 4%
Family quarrels 0% 5%

It is ok to gamble within limits but when it becomes an addiction, it is a problem not only for the individual but also the people around them.

The survey attempts to identify individuals who might be problem and pathological gamblers based on diagnostic criteria laid out in DSM-5, a standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States.

DSM-5 Screening Criteria

Individuals that exhibit four or more of the above symptoms in a 12-month period are identified as probable problem and pathological gamblers.

Preoccupation Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g. having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences)
Tolerance Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve desired excitement
Loss of control Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
Withdrawal Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
Escape Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g. helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed)
Chasing After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses)
Lying Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
Risked Significant Relationship Has jeopardised or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling
Bailout Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling

Depending on the number of symptoms, it will determine the severity of the addiction.

  • Mild 4 – 5
  • Moderate 6 – 7
  • Severe 8 – 9

Although not specifically stated, I suspect a mild addiction corresponds to problem gambling while a moderate and severe addiction corresponds to pathological gambling.

According to DSV-5, the most common criteria are usually related to a preoccupation with gambling and “chasing” losses.

Risking significant relationships and bailing out are typically the least common criteria but they most often occur among those with a more severe gambling problem.


I came across a 2020 survey on gambling in Singapore by the National Council on Problem Gambling and picked out several findings that I found interesting.

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