Friday, August 19, 2011

Foreign Workers in Singapore Flock to Self-Exclude

The Self-Exclusion blog speculated that foreign workers in Singapore might feel a bit of pressure from their employers to self-exclude from the Singapore casinos, and this is one prediction that seems to have been borne out: "many Singaporer companies are refusing to renew their foreign employees work permits unless they agree to give the casinos a wide berth."

The excluded list is not public, so how do employers know that their employees have self-excluded? The employer-assisted procedure involves an application form that is filled out in part by the employer, and in part by the employee, and signed by both parties. The completed form is submitted by the employer, however. Employers, therefore, can monitor whether their employees fill out and sign their portion of the form.

Singapore's National Council on Problem Gambling goes to great lengths to stress that these employer-facilitated exclusions must be voluntary on the part of the employee. But just how voluntary are they if an employee who won't agree to self-exclude will not get to keep his or her job? Here's the claimed purpose of the program:
The Consolidated Foreigner Form is to facilitate/assist employers to help their foreign workers apply for self-exclusion from the casinos. This is because many foreign workers, especially Work Permit holders, may not be proficient in English or our other official languages. They may not be aware that they can opt to exclude themselves from the casinos or understand how to apply for exclusion orders. Therefore, we are providing this option for employers to facilitate/assist their foreign workers to apply for self-exclusion.
The amazing popularity of the program with foreign workers suggests that in practice, the employer-facilitated process is more about employer coercion than about empowering foreign employees to satisfy their latent desires to self-exclude.

The same article linked above gives the overall exclusion numbers in Singapore, circa July, 2011:
In total, around 18,000 self exclusion orders are now in place at Singapore’s casinos, of which 70% are from foreigners. In addition to the 12,660 foreign workers excluded from the casinos, the number of locals excluding themselves from visiting Singapore’s casinos has also risen from 3,500 to 5,389.

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