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THE STATE OF
GAMBLING IN CANADA:
AN INTERPROVINCIAL ROADMAP OF GAMBLING AND ITS IMPACT
Version 1.1
The following electronic version of Canada West Foundation's
The State of Gambling in Canada report must be printed on
legal size (8.5"x14") paper. The 8-page roadmap contains a 3-
page centertable (pages 4-6) that may be difficult to read in this
format. For easier reading, use the Page Setup function of
Adobe Acrobat to increase the print size to 105%. A printed
version of the roadmap is available from the Canada West
Foundation for a charge of $3. Please contact the CWF at
(403) 264-9535 (phone), (403) 269-4776 (fax) or
[email protected] (e-mail) to order the report.
CANADA WEST FOUNDATION
GAMBLING IN CANADA:
THE STATE OF
GAMBLING IN CANADA:
Triumph
AN INTERPROVINCIAL ROADMAP OF GAMBLING AND ITS IMPACT
, Tragedy or Trade-off?
he Criminal Code of Canada permits provincial (level 3 gamblers or "probable pathological T governments to regulate and control legalized games gamblers") negative consequences because of an of chance. Because of this provincial autonomy, the inability to control their gambling behavior. Level 3 Canadian gambling landscape is characterized by a gamblers are those who meet the diagnostic criteria patchwork of inconsistencies between the provinces. The for disordered gambling, while level 2 gamblers are a types of gambling available, the disbursement of provincial more varied group because they sporadically lose revenues from gambling, the return to players, etc. differ control of their gambling. Shaffer, et al. theorize that from one jurisdiction to the next. This roadmap is a first level 2 gamblers are in a state of flux, some leaning attempt at sorting out Canadian gambling policy. A toward level 1 where they are demonstrating greater summary of the latest research and public consultations on control over their gambling, and others who are the nature and impact of gambling is also provided.
exercising increasingly less control of their gamblingand verging on level 3 gambling behavior.
The roadmap considers six factors: (1) what the latestgambling research tells us about the costs and impact of The estimated past-year level 3 prevalence rates for problem gambling; (2) the types of games available and net disordered gambling across North America are 1.1% gambling revenues; (3) charitable and non-profit funding for the adult population and 5.7% for the youth from gambling; (4) problem gambling and treatment population. The counterpart figures for level 2 subsidies; (5) new provincial gambling regulations and gamblers are 2.8% for the adult population and citizen consultations; and (6) government accountability in 14.8% for the youth population. Shaffer and his regard to gambling policy. In addition, a supplement to the colleagues contend that scholars, policy makers, and roadmap examines the special case of Video Lottery treatment specialists have neglected level 2 gamblers.
Terminals (VLTs) and their role in Canada's public policy While level 2 gamblers are less distressed than level 3 gamblers, they far outnumber them and, takentogether, constitute a significant drain on societal Current Research Findings
Since the Canada West Foundation’s November 1997 Other important findings from this meta-analysis on the review of Canadian gambling issues, Gambling and the nature and scope of disordered gambling include: Public Interest? (Azmier and Smith, 1997), new researchfindings have broadened our understanding of gambling’s The rate of gambling disorders has increased over the impact on society. This section highlights recent gambling past two decades in conjunction with the expansion of research that has already influenced, or is likely to legal gambling. It is almost to the point now where influence, public policy decisions and inform problem scholars can accurately predict disordered gambling gambling treatment and prevention initiatives.
prevalence rates if they know the amount and types ofgambling offered and how long they have been An important study completed in the past year is the meta- analysis of the prevalence of gambling disorders in theUnited States and Canada (Shaffer, Hall, and Vander Bilt, Gambling disorders in the general population run 1997). The purpose of the meta-analysis was to integrate significantly higher among youths than adults and are the results of 120 previously conducted independent studies done in North America on the prevalence of gamblingdisorders. The authors were seeking to "establish precise Individuals with concurrent psychiatric problems are estimates of the prevalence of disordered gambling and more vulnerable to a gambling addiction than identify factors that may influence this rate." individuals who do not have these problems.
The meta-analysis produced several noteworthy findings: A second major study released in 1998 was the AlbertaGambling and Problem Gambling Replication Study Most North Americans who gamble do so in a (Wynne Resources, 1998). Its importance derives from a controlled fashion (level 1 gamblers); however, a lack of similar Canadian studies on prevalency rates. The small percentage of gamblers experience moderate Alberta study is the only province-wide prevalency work (level 2 gamblers or "problem gamblers") to serious that has been published in Canada since 1996.
This roadmap, part of the Canada West Foundation's Gambling in Canada Project, was developed by CWFResearch Analyst Jason Azmier and Gaming Research Specialist Garry Smith, Ph. D. (professor emeritus at theUniversity of Alberta). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors only and do notnecessarily reflect the opinion of the Canada West Foundation, its members or its Council. Permission is grantedfor any and all reproduction of this document for non-profit and educational purposes.
CANADA WEST FOUNDATION
Suite 550, 630 - 3rd Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 4L4
October 1998
Tel: (403) 264-9535
Fax: (403) 269-4776
ISBN#1-895992-70-2
e-mail: [email protected]
web site: www.cwf.ca
The purpose of the report was to determine adult Albertans’ quit gambling altogether or learn to temper their gambling gambling patterns and behaviors in 1998 and compare the behavior. The two most effective self-control strategies findings with an earlier study on the same population were limiting their exposure to temptation and finding (Wynne, Smith, and Volberg, 1994). The salient results of other activities to occupy their time.
4. Recently, attempts have been made to assess the social Using a revised version of the South Oaks Gambling and economic costs to society created by disordered Screen in both studies to discriminate between non- gamblers. Lesieur (1998) analyzed the results of three problem, problem, and probable pathological surveys conducted in the United States with Gamblers gamblers, the combined percentage of problem and Anonymous members and found: (1) the average debt was probable pathological gamblers decreased from 5.4% $95,000 per respondent; (2) the money to finance their to 4.8% between 1994 and 1998. There was a decline gambling escapades came from loans via banks, credit in the percentage of problem gamblers from 4.0% in cards, credit with casinos, friends and family members, 1994 to 2.8% in 1998. By contrast, the percentage of loan sharks, and the sale of personal or family property; (3) probable pathological gamblers increased from 1.4% 20% of the sample said they gambled with their unemployment cheques and 60% of the respondentsreported stealing to finance their gambling habits; (4) in Participation in all but three gambling formats terms of personal costs, 18% had gambling-related divorces decreased between 1994 and 1998. The exceptions and another 10% had gambling-related separations.
were gambling on stocks, options, and commodities Various forms of suicidal ideation were also reported by (19% in 1994 versus 25% in 1998), gambling at this sample of pathological gamblers, including 77% who casinos outside of Alberta (8% in 1994 versus 10% in said they wanted to die; 66% had contemplated suicide; 1998), and VLT play (17% in 1994 versus 21% in 47% had a definite plan to kill themselves; and 18% had Probable pathological gamblers show considerably 5. The work of Gupta and Derevensky (1996, 1997) has higher alcohol, tobacco, and drug use rates than do centered on child and adolescent gambling. Noteworthy non-problem gamblers. In addition, compared to non- findings from their most recent studies include a problem gamblers, probable pathological gamblers correlation between a high frequency of video game play report being generally or very unhappy or dissatisfied and a juvenile’s propensity to gamble. This is an indication with their lives and report feeling anxious, worried, that high frequency male video game players are the group upset or depressed almost always or most of the time most "at risk" for developing problematic gambling habits, and juvenile gambling is strongly influenced by familialgambling patterns and the availability of legal gambling Two valuable sources of information for gambling scholars are The Wager, a weekly educational bulletin devoted tocurrent gambling research trends, and the Journal of 6. Griffiths (1996) has written on the concept of Gambling Studies, a quarterly compendium of the latest technological addictions, that is, a behavioral addiction that gambling-related research findings. Based on a review of involves human-machine interaction. The interaction may the past 12 months of these and other scholarly be passive (television) or active (video games, slot publications, the following themes are prominent on the machines, VLTs, etc.). Griffiths hypothesizes that heavy Internet usage may also be addictive, particularly if theInternet is used to focus compulsive behaviors such as 1. Comings’ (1998) work on "The Molecular Genetics of gambling. Based on the possibility of Internet use fuelling Pathological Gambling" has demonstrated a connection gambling addiction and concerns about regulating the between a person’s genetic make-up and a propensity for activity, the United States Senate recently voted 90-10 in disordered gambling. Comings’ key findings include: (1) favor of a bill prohibiting gambling on the Internet. pathological gambling is classified as a disorder that hassymptoms and genetic characteristics that are common to Gambling Research: Future Prospects
other neurological and psychiatric maladies; (2) thereappears to be a correlation between pathological gambling The most comprehensive of gambling research projects and the presence of a specific dopamine-related genetic currently under way is in the United States under the configuration; and (3) Comings’ research lends credence to auspices of a Presidential Commission. The Commission the classification of pathological gambling as a reward has a $2.5 million research budget with which to produce a deficiency syndrome, involving an impairment of a final report by mid-June of 1999. The overall purpose of the report is to conduct a sweeping study of the social andeconomic impacts of gambling in the United States. The 2. The "Gambling Decisions" program is an applied lines of inquiry being followed include: (1) a national research project funded by the Alberta Alcohol and Drug telephone survey featuring a sample size of 4,000 adults Abuse Commission. The program, based on the work of and 1,000 adolescents that will ascertain gambling Australian scholars Mark Dickerson and his colleagues behaviors and attitudes, the problem gambling prevalence (1990) and Michael Walker (1992), is designed as an rate, and the social and economic correlates associated with intervention for early stage (level 2) problem gamblers.
problem gambling; (2) patron exit interviews at gambling The program explores the option of controlling and establishments which will elicit a snapshot of who is moderating gambling rather than focusing on the single playing, what games they are playing, and the amounts goal of abstinence. Community trials of this program are being wagered; (3) an examination of a broad database of social and economic indicators from 100 communities forthe purpose of comparing information from areas where 3. In a study supported by the Alberta Heritage Foundation there is no gambling, moderate gambling, and a plenitude for Medical Research, David Hodgins (in Immen, 1998) of gambling; (4) a thorough analysis of the literature on the found a "natural recovery" process at work, whereby the topic of pathological gambling; (5) a review and cataloging majority of disordered gamblers in the sample were able to of all state gambling laws and regulations and an examination of the differences in regulatory controls casinos; (4) not direct gambling profits to the province's between industry and Native casinos; (6) a synthesis of General Revenue Fund (GRF); (5) direct all gambling
information on the economic benefits of casinos; and (7) an profits to non-profit community initiatives; (6) increase analysis of the social and economic impact of lotteries and visibility of gambling treatment programs; (7) improve a review of each state’s public policy pertaining to lotteries.
disclosure of gambling activity to better inform citizens;and (8) update and adhere to a set of guiding principles for The American Presidential Commission will amass the most exhaustive database on the pros and cons of gamblingyet available. While the findings from the American study Following the Summit Conference Report (July 1998), the will benefit Canadian scholars, there is a need for a province pledged to implement all eight citizen requests.
complementary Canadian review of gambling issues. No Although at this point no formal policy has been stated such broadly based investigation of gambling has even with respect to any of these commitments, should the been envisaged by the Canadian federal government.
Alberta government carry out its promises, the gambling Canada West Foundation's 3-year Gambling in Canada landscape in that province will dramatically alter. In Project endeavours to fill this knowledge gap.
particular, the redirection of gambling profits away fromthe GRF represents a fundamental change in the way Citizen Consultations
In addition to new research, public consultations provide an 2. Manitoba's Municipal VLT Plebiscite Review. In
opportunity to gauge current public opinion of gambling July, Manitobans were given the opportunity to vote out policy. Over the past year, the Ontario, Manitoba, and Video Lottery Terminals from their communities following Alberta governments each participated in public a consultation process with citizens. Public submissions consultations on gambling policy with their citizens. The were sought and considered by the Manitoba Gaming following results of these processes provide a measure of Commission on the feasibility of and interest in holding stakeholder attitudes toward government gambling policy.
votes on VLT removal. As a result, a formal process hasbeen accepted by the Manitoba government allowing for 1. Alberta's Gaming Summit. In April, a comprehensive
citizens to directly control whether VLTs will be available three-day summit held by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor in their regions. To date, one community will vote on Commission involved a unique mix of stakeholders and VLTs during the October 1998 municipal election.
randomly selected participants from across the province.
Although severely restricted for time and somewhat limited 3. Ontario's Charitable Organization Consultations. In
in scope, the conference did derive a number of August, Ontario met with representatives of 250 charitable recommendations on how the provincial government could organizations to receive advice on how gambling revenue improve its regulation and operation of gambling. The should be allocated between project, capital and operating summit participants recommended that the province: (1) purposes, as well as how to achieve local input into dedicate more resources to research on issues such as the decision-making. Half of these focus groups took place in social impact of gambling and emerging gambling those communities that will pilot Ontario's new charity activities; (2) restrict gambling to those at least 18 years casino initiative. The conclusions of this effort are old; (3) continue the charitable model of bingos and Grading Public Accountability
Canada West's Gambling and the Public Interest? paper contained a number of recommendations that address three areas of public
accountability: (1) public consultation and review, (2) data dissemination and transparency, and (3) the need for research. Using these three criteria,
all provincial organizations associated with gambling were contacted to determine their level of public accountability. The following report card was
prepared in the development of this roadmap and is a look at how the provinces compare relative to each other with respect to consultation,
transparency, and research. As a result, higher grades only reflect relatively further progress towards accountability, not its acheivement.
SASKATCH-
MANITOBA
COLUMBIA
Consultations:
Consultations:
Consultations:
Consultations:
Consultations:
Transparency:
Transparency:
Transparency:
Transparency: Minimal
Transparency: Difficult to
Research:
Research:
Research:
Research: Some regional
Research:
NOVA SCOTIA
PRINCE EDWARD
NEWFOUND-
BRUNSWICK
Consultations:
Consultations:
Consultations:
Consultations:
Consultations:
Transparency:
Transparency:
Transparency:
Transparency:
Transparency: Limited
Research:
Research:
Research: Recent
Research:
Research:
GAMBLING IN CANA
BRITISH COLUMBIA
SASKATCHEWAN
MANITOBA
GAMBLING
AVAILABLE AND
Ts & Slot
Machines
NET REVENUES
Not Available in Region
(non-charity)
Data Not Available
(charity)
• (e) signifies value hasbeen estimated.
fles &
• latest year estimateswere used whenever Net Gambling Revenues to Governments and Charities
Est. Per Adult Net
Est. Per Adult Net
Est. Per Adult Net
Est. Per Adult
Est. Per Adult Net
Net Revenue
1992/93 $158.32
1992/93 $159.08
Charitable Gambling
Data Not Availa
Revenues 1992/93
Charitable Gambling
Revenues 1996/97
Lottery Grants to Non-Profits
and Charities 1992/93
Lottery Grants to Non-Profits
and Charities 1996/97
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Charitable Revenues
Total Charitable Funding
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
(Revenues and Grants)
Current Adult Pathological
Gambling Rate (Source)
Current Adult Problem
Gambling Rate (Source)
Agency Treating Problem
Gamblers
Gambling Treatment
Expenditures 1992/93
oblem Gambling
Gambling Treatment
Expenditures 1997/98
Relative Treatment
Expenditure Data
Agencies Operating
Gambling Activities
Agencies Regulating
Gambling Activities
Most Recent Formal Public
Consultation
First Nations Gambling
Activities
Recent and Proposed
No upcoming or
Regulation and Policy Changes
Changes to Provincial
proposed changes
Gambling Activities
G IN CANADA ROADMAP
NEW BRUNSWICK
NOVA SCOTIA
NEWFOUNDLAND
Not Available in Region
Not Available in Region
Not Available in Region
Charitable casino data
Not Available in Region
unavailable
Est. Per Adult Net
Est. Per Adult
Est. Per Adult Net
Est. Per Adult Net
Est. Per Adult Net
Est. Per Adult Net
Net Revenue
1992/93 $115.41
1992/93 $121.90
1992/93 $131.58
Data Not Available
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Total Charitable
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
Revenue/Grants
1992/93 $12.5 M
2%have "3 to 4" problems with gambling No Provincial Study
No Provincial Study
2%have "5+" problems with gambling No Provincial Study
No Provincial Study
Data Not Available
No formalized public
consultation
No specific arrangements
• cancelled proposed VLTprogram• cancelled the proposed No upcoming or
No upcoming or
proposed changes
proposed changes
for public education and problemgambler identification Current Provincial Gambling Revenues by Province
Change in Net Gambling Revenue
and Type of Game
1992/93-Current by Type of Game
Machines
VL
Ts & Slot

$1,584.7 M
$1,181.3 M
Products
$1,841.6 M
$1,326.8 M
Products
For-Profit
(non-charity)
For-Profit
(or equivalent)
(or latest
available data)
(charity)
Charitable
Activity
(bingo,
raffles,

Percent Change
Raffles and
casinos,
Pull-Tickets
pull-tickets)
fles &
$1,449.0 M
Total 1992/93: $2,742.5 M
Total Current: $4,827.4 M
Total Percent Change: +76%
Source: Derived by CWF from Provincial Gaming Commissions.
Source: Derived by CWF from Provincial Gaming Commissions.
Note: Revenue data include all forms of gambling (lottery, charitable gaming and Note: Revenue data include all forms of gambling (lottery, charitable gaming horse revenues) after prizes and payouts. Because of provincial reporting and horse revenues) after prizes and payouts. Because of provincial reporting inconsistencies, data are the best available estimate only.
inconsistencies, data are the best available estimate only.
Percentage of Provincial Government Revenues
Provincial Net Gambling Revenue vs. Adult Population
Derived From Gambling - 1997/98
Portion of Canada's Adult
Population in the Province
$698 million
$223 million
Portion of Total Canadian
Net Gambling Revenue
$141 million
from the Province
$149 million
$1,474 million
Over/Under Contributions
as a Percent of Adult Pop.
$1,090 million
$78 million
$15.4 million
$84 million
$291 million
Source: Derived by CWF from Dominion Bond Rating Service Data and provincial budget projections of 1997/98.
Source: Derived by CWF from Provincial Gaming Commissions.
Note: Includes only provincial government revenue (no horse Note: Revenue data include all forms of gambling (lottery, charitable gaming and horse revenues) racing or charitable gaming, or licensing fees). Ontario and after prizes and payouts. Because of provincial reporting inconsistencies, data are the best Quebec data include their share of for-proft casino revenue.
Gupta, Rina, and Derevensky, Jeffrey. (1996). "The Shaffer, Howard, Hall, M., and Vander Bilt, J. (1997).
Comings, David. (1998). "The Great Gene Hunt (and its Relationship Between Gambling and Video-Game Playing in Estimating the Prevalence of Disordered Gambling Behavior implications)." The Wager. 3(30), July 28.
Children and Adolescents." Journal of Gambling Behavior.
in the United States and Canada. Boston: Harvard Medical Crockford, D. N., and el-Guebaly, N. (1998).
"Pharmacological Treatments: Naltrexone." The Wager.
Gupta, Rina, and Derevensky, Jeffrey. (1997). "Familial and Smith, Garry and Azmier, Jason. (1997). Gambling and the Social Influences on Juvenile Gambling Behavior." Journal of Public Interest? Canada West Foundation, Calgary, Alberta.
Dickerson, Mark. (1993). "A Preliminary Exploration of a two- Smoliak, Alexander. (1997). Unplugged From the Machine: stage methodology in the Assessment of the Extent and Immen, Wallace. (1998). "Problem Gamblers Wager Against VLT Problem Gambling Treatment Clients. Report prepared Degree of Gambling-Related Problems in the Australian Their Will, Study Says." The Toronto Globe and Mail. (July 24, for the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, Population." In William Eadington and Judy Cornelius (Eds.), Gambling Behavior and Problem Gambling. Reno: Universityof Nevada Press: 347-363.
Kelly, Tim. (1998). "Update on the Progress of the Presidential The Wager (The Weekly Addiction Gambling Educational Gambling Commission." A presentation made to the Twelfth Report), "From the Hill: Gambling on the `Net." 3(35).
Dickerson, Mark, Hinchy, John, and England, Stephanie Legg.
National Conference on Problem Gambling, Las Vegas, June 18.
(1990). "Minimal Treatments of Problem Gamblers: A Preliminary Walker, Michael. (1992). The Psychology of Gambling. New Investigation." Journal of Gambling Studies. 6(1), 87-102.
Lesieur, Henry. (1998). "Costs and Treatment of Pathological Gambling." The Annals of the American Academy of Political Griffiths, Mark. (1994). "An Exploratory Study of Cross Wynne Resources. (1998). Adult Gambling and Problem Addictions." Journal of Gambling Studies. 10(4): 363-370.
Gambling in Alberta, 1998. Report prepared for the Alberta McGurrin, Martin. (1992). Pathological Gambling: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, Edmonton, Alberta.
Griffiths, Mark. (1996). "Gambling on the Internet: A Brief Conceptual, Diagnostic, and Treatment Issues. Sarasota: Note." Journal of Gambling Studies. 12(4): 471-474.
FOCUS ON VIDEO
LOTTERY TERMINALS:
A SUPPLEMENT TO THE STATE OF GAMBLING IN CANADA ROADMAP

itizens in many Canadian jurisdictions have been C questioning the propriety of provincial governments Per Adult and Total Profits from VLTs
sanctioning and profiting from VLT (video lottery terminal) 1997/98 by Province
gambling. As a result of many successful petitions inmunicipalities throughout Alberta, over 70% of Albertans Government Rev.
Retailer Commission
will have the opportunity to vote in the fall civic electionson whether to retain or remove VLTs. Similar votes will also take place in at least one Manitoba community. It has $610 million
been suggested by some analysts and those that havecollected these petitions that the impressive revenues $160 million
accruing from VLTs may not counter-balance the socialdamages created by those individuals who become addicted $175 million
to the machines. What is the truth about VLTs? Are theythe "crack cocaine" of gambling or just another game of $111 million
$15.7 million
Research on VLTs
$111 million
Despite the commercial success of VLTs (see Figure 1),there is growing evidence to suggest that VLTs are the most $60 million
addictive form of legal gambling. In support of thisassertion, gambling addiction therapists in North America $491 million
and abroad have reported sharp increases in problemgambling when VLTs are introduced in a jurisdiction. InAlberta, over 60% of the calls to the provincially funded problem gambling help-line are VLT-related. No other Note: Ontario and British Columbia do not have VLTs. Figures represent form of gambling registers as high as 10% of the help-line profits after prize payouts and expenses. MB and SK data based on 1996/97 calls. On the surface, at least, this makes VLTs six timesmore hazardous than the next most problematic form ofgambling. Data from Alberta Gamblers Anonymous Of the total dollar amount gambled on VLTs by the chapters support this supposition, as over 80% of new 1,821 randomly-selected study participants, an members mention VLTs as their game of choice.
incredible 67% of the total money reportedly spent onVLTs came from the probable pathological gambler The misuse of VLT gambling has also been highlighted in subgroup who comprised only 2% of the sample.
two recently released studies authorized by the AlbertaAlcohol and Drug Abuse Commission. In a small study of There is a staggering difference between probable 84 AADAC clients in treatment for VLT addiction, Smoliak pathological gamblers ($381.50) and non-problem (1997) found that ready access to VLTs was a key gamblers ($3.14) in terms of their average monthly contributing factor in the development of a gambling problem. VLT clients reported playing the machines anaverage of 18 days per month, for 6 hours per session, and Unique Characteristics of VLTs
2/3 of the group had incurred serious gambling debts.
Even though most clients agree that there is no skill Problem gambling treatment specialists offer several component to VLT play, many of them engage in ritualistic reasons to explain the addictive potency of VLTs compared or superstitious behaviors that they believe can influence Problem gamblers are attracted to continuous forms of In the report on Adult Gambling and Problem Gambling in gambling, that is, games where there is a brief interval Alberta (Wynne Resources, 1998), several revealing between placing the bet, playing the game, and determining statistics pertaining to VLT gambling are provided: the outcome (Dickerson, 1993). VLTs are the prototypecontinuous form of gambling, because unlike most other Two-thirds (66.7%) of the probable pathological gambling formats where the operator sets the pace, the VLT gamblers and over half (60.8%) of the problem player controls the speed of play. Once a player becomes gamblers had played VLTs in the previous year. This adept at operating the machine, a game cycle can be is in contrast to non-problem gamblers, where only completed in two seconds. Action-craving players can maintain a constant tingle of excitement because there isvirtually no down time. Probable pathological gamblers (36%) are much morelikely than non-problem gamblers (1%) to report Many VLT players have the mistaken impression that they are competing with the machine. They are convinced that CANADA WEST FOUNDATION
there is an optimal strategy that can be learned which willmake them consistent winners. They fail to recognize that the machine is operated by a randomly programmed Availability and Access to VLTs
microchip that does not respond to their thoughts and Province
manipulations. This flaw can be damaging because the Per Adult
Restrictions
greater one’s determination to win and the longer one plays, the greater the likelihood of losing. Unlike some other forms of gambling, one cannot play a VLT well, only "Escape gamblers" (those seeking to temporarily distance themselves from their unhappy life circumstances) gravitate to VLTs because of the abundant opportunities toreach a dissociative state. Through the continuous use of the addictive substance or activity (in this case VLT play), gamblers can "detach themselves psychologically from their ordinary reality and become so engrossed in fantasy that they assume an altered state of identity" (McGurrin, Note: Number of machines based on March 31, 1998. Manitoba First Nations 1992). Those problem and pathological gamblers in the VLTs are available in non-age restricted locations recent Alberta study (Wynne, 1998) were significantlymore likely to have reached a dissociative state while ultimately gives the government a 30% profit per machine.
gambling than were non-problem gamblers. Typical Simply stated, over the long term, a VLT retains about 30% dissociative states mentioned by addicted gamblers are of the money played, and this makes the odds of winning losing track of time, behaving as though in a trance, and Finally, the credit system used on VLTs causes some With VLTs being restricted to licensed premises, the players to lose sight of the fact that they are playing with elements of alcohol and tobacco use become part of a real money. Once money has been deposited into the volatile mix that increases the likelihood of combining machine, wins and losses are displayed as credits on the several dependencies at once. Therapists note that about monitor. A player wanting to cash out must press the pay- half of the problem gamblers they treat have one or more out button to get a receipt that is redeemable by the cashier.
other addictions, usually to alcohol, drugs, or tobacco Because of this extra step involved in cashing out, players (Griffiths, 1994). The Alberta study (Wynne, 1998) on often decide to run out their credits on the machine. adult Albertans’ gambling tendencies corroborates the linkbetween uncontrolled gambling and substance use and It seems clear from this analysis that VLTs are, because of abuse. In comparing problem and probable pathological their design and impact on the player, different from other gamblers with non-problem gamblers, the Alberta study forms of gambling. Although the "crack cocaine" notes that disordered gamblers are much more likely to be metaphor is likely inappropriate because it compares an frequent and excessive drinkers, marijuana users, and illegal, unregulated substance to the controlled and legal VLTs, the research does suggest that VLTs are particularlyharmful to the problem gambler. Through their actions, the Many players miscalculate their chances of winning on provincial governments appear to recognize the unique VLTs. Government officials report that the machines are character of VLTs. Recent steps taken by the provincial programmed to pay out at a 92% rate, which means that on governments to reduce the problems associated with VLTs an individual play, the house has an 8% advantage over the have included: experiments to slow down the machines player. At first glance this appears to be a low takeout (Alberta); the removal of machines from non-age restricted percentage when compared to other legal gambling locations (New Brunswick and PEI); the abandonment of formats. The fallacy lies in the fact that few, if any, players plans to introduce VLTs (Ontario); and allowing citizens to quit after only one try. This means that the 8% house vote on removing VLTs from their communities (Manitoba advantage grinds against the player on every spin and Citizen Action on VLTs
considered an important freedom that Albertans do not want tolose, but the access to VLTs should not be as close as the nearest In the last year, citizen concerns about the potentially harmful lounge. Citizens would prefer that gambling be restricted to impact of VLTs have resulted in opportunities to vote on the gambling designated locations (i.e., casinos, bingo halls, race removal of VLTs from several areas. Alberta communities have led tracks). Accessibility, not availability, would be the critical issue of the way; citizens in at least 26 Alberta communities (including concern for voters. As a result, the outcome of the votes asking for seven of the eight largest cities) have successfully earned the right a ban will likely fail to satisfy public opinion. Neither the status to vote to retain or remove the machines. Altogether,more than 1.8 quo nor abolishment position appears to have a significant number million Albertans (70%) will have an opportunity to vote on VLTs of supporters. For more information on the Alberta's VLT votes, in conjunction with their municipal elections on October 19, 1998.
see CWF's Sept. 1998 report entitled Rolling the Dice: Alberta's The outcome of these votes will undoubtedly influence future VLT Experience with Direct Democracy and Video Lottery Terminals The Alberta case provided an opportunity to examine public Because of Alberta's experiences with the right to vote, other sentiment towards VLTs. Canada West's polling data suggests that jurisdictions are also considering their options. Citizen groups many citizens are concerned about the impact that VLTs have on a across Canada have lobbied their provincial governments for the community. But those concerns are focused on where the VLTs are right to vote on VLTs. In Manitoba, the government responded to found, not on the machines themselves. If given the option, the citizen concerns and has provided a framework similar to Alberta citizens would prefer by a 3 to 1 margin to move VLTs out of bars by which citizens can hold a vote in conjunction with their October and lounges and into casinos. The right to play the machines is

Source: http://cwf.ca/pdf-docs/publications/October1998-The-State-of-Gambling-in-Canada-An-Interprovincial-Roadmap-of-Gambling-and-its-Impact.pdf

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