News

I earn $15K but I owed $100K

The hawker could have lived an easy life on the $15,000 a month he earns selling braised duck rice at Redhill Close.

But Mr Kenny Soon, 51, had to repay loan sharks because of his gambling habit.

For 32 years, he would bet on anything, even the flip of a coin and matchsticks.

In recent years, he started betting online, especially on football.

He would bet on many of the 500-plus matches taking place every week, despite not knowing most of the teams.

The father of three said in Mandarin: "Even when there were no more matches to bet on, there would be other sports like badminton and rugby."

Mr Soon finally kicked his gambling addiction about a year ago, after seeking help from the Gamblers Recovery Centre (GRC) in MacPherson.

By then, he was $100,000 in debt, which he is still trying to pay off at an average of $2,000 a month.

LAST STRAW

"I realised that I needed to seek help after a loan shark splashed paint on my door. That was the last straw," he said.

To get the loan sharks off his back, his wife and children had to borrow between $10,000 and $30,000 from friends. By the time he quit, he was in debt to a total of 17 licensed and unlicensed moneylenders.

During their 27 years of marriage, his wife told him repeatedly to stop gambling, but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Said Mr Soon: "That's the mentality of gamblers. They don't know how to stop and seek help until they face a difficulty.

"Many of the others in my counselling group at GRC thought the quickest solution to settling their debts was to gamble more and win."

He now says that kicking his gambling habit was the best thing to happen to him.

"Every time I think of my debts, I lose confidence, I become upset. But my church and GRC helped by giving me financial advice, teaching me how to repay the money and even getting experts to help us," he said.

"I no longer feel the itch to gamble."