I Will Win TOTO Today! A Singapore Dream

Hit Jackpot - win a lottery

Here everyone is after making money!. Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday evening before six, you would see long lines forming outside numerous stores, shops and some supermarkets in Singapore. The average Singaporean would naturally ignore the long queue and go about their business. To the eyes of the unfamiliar, questions start forming in their heads. What are they queuing for? What are the small slips of papers they are carrying? Most importantly, why are they queuing in such an orderly manner without any supervision from authorities?

Come even closer to them and you would be able to see the different expressions on their faces. Some look as forlorn as ever, as though they are spending off their last buck. Some fidget while they are in line, looking eager to get to the front of the line, wherever it may lead to. Most look hopeful, with that very familiar “I’ll get it this time” looks on their faces.

TOTO Ticket

The Winning Numbers
The Winning Numbers

Welcome to the world of legalized betting

Singapore Pools, a subsidiary of a board being run by the Ministry of Finance, was set up in 1968 as a means to cull illegal betting in Singapore. The Singapore Government must have had a cheeky idea on that day, with one of them going, “What better way to stop illegal betting than to create a fully legal, state run, nationwide betting den for our citizens, right?” The motion was passed and Singapore Pools was born.

That may have sounded a little terrible and irresponsible of the city state’s government and it is a little harsh to mention that because surplus earnings from the various forms of lottery and betting they run these days (which includes the highly popular 4-D, Toto, soccer betting) go towards worthy causes that the community needs. This includes charity organizations, sports associations and other causes. So the money eventually goes back to the people through various means. So, if you are a big-time punter in Singapore, you are not really a punter, you are a big-time donator to the society. Well, sort of.

A study has shown that at least 55% of Singaporeans have visited a Singapore Pools outlet to try their luck on any one of the “betting activities” available at least once last year. So, knowing full well the negative consequences of betting, why do so many Singaporeans keep forming long queues at various Singapore Pools outlets across the island? You must have heard of the American Dream before. Living the life, having a family, a stable job in America, that is the American Dream. It is time you find out about the Singapore Dream. Striking the lottery, winning first prize in 4-D, buying an executive condominium and not having to work for the rest of your life. That is the Singapore Dream. Come to think of it, it does sound a lot better than that American Dream, doesn’t it?

To make matters worse, these Singaporeans are a superstitious lot. No, not just superstitious. They are really very superstitious. They go to temples, various places of worship, and while they do pray for their families’ health and safety, they go the extra mile and pray for a bunch of numbers to appear in their minds or in some other form for them to bet on. They offer offerings to spirits, take down the plate numbers of a vehicle that has been involved in an accident, go the traditional Chinese way and bet on various interpretations of the number “8”, an auspicious number for the Chinese, all to strike lottery and win it big. Some of them even go to an extreme and travel across the island to an outlet that is supposedly lucky and have won prizes for people who have placed their bets there.

While it can be amusing, it is also very dangerous. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports or MCYS have seen plenty of families seeking financial and psychological help for members who are addicted to betting. Even though it is pretty ironic to see one arm of the government try to stop the betting habit while another arm offer bigger and bigger lotteries especially during the holiday season, it can be disheartening to see families split apart due to this.

So, if you are in Singapore, go ahead and try your luck at one of the hundreds of Singapore Pools outlets across the island, it has after all become part of the culture, but please, I beg of you, do not get carried away by it!

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