I have always opposed all forms of gambling and written time and time again against any expansion of casinos. Greedy provincial governments have encouraged expansion of all forms of gambling because they rake in big bucks. The hypocrites only pay lip service when it comes to providing help for gambling addicts. All they do is throw some crumbs and when they think no one is noticing, they even cut back on that!
For instance, in 2010, the Vancouver Sun in an editorial pointed out: “Last year, the government cut funding for gambling-addiction programs by 34 per cent. That is a wholly inappropriate thing to do, given the government’s significant expansion of both casino and Internet gambling, and given that the government’s own research suggest that 4.6 per cent of gamblers have a problem and 8.7 per cent are at risk.”
This week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, while releasing a report that examines legalized gambling in B.C. from a public-health perspective, noted: “Gambling revenues are an INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT REVENUE SOURCE for the government of B.C.” [Capitalization mine.]
He added: “My report examines the inherent challenges that government faces in seeking to raise revenue while not increasing social harms, and makes a number of evidence-based recommendations for government to consider.”
The report states that surveys show that in 2007 approximately 27 per cent of British Columbians were non-gamblers, 60 per cent were non-problem gamblers, and another nine per cent were low-risk gamblers. A total of 4.6 per cent of British Columbians were moderate-risk or problem gamblers, representing approximately 159,000 people.
Between 2002 and 2007, the number of people in B.C. with the most severe form of problem gambling MORE THAN DOUBLED, increasing from approximately 13,000 people to more than 31,000 people.
The report shows that while the prevalence of problem gambling in B.C. is relatively low, it has been INCREASING and NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED. The report also notes that there has been a substantial increase in the availability of inherently riskier gambling opportunities, such as electronic gaming machines.
Problem gambling has potentially adverse personal, social, and economic implications for families and communities. The report finds that people with LOWER INCOMES spend a HIGHER PROPORTION of household income on gambling. It also shows that people with problem-gambling behaviour have HIGHER RATES of mental-health and substance-use issues.
While the report notes that the provincial government deserves recognition for implementing various problem-gambling prevention and treatment programs, it also recommends INCREASING the percentage of gaming revenue allocated to prevention and treatment, and on research and evaluation.
How many times will these TRUTHS have to be repeated for the greedy, shameless politicians to get the message?
AS I have written time and time again over the past years, the immoral expansion of gambling – that was started by then-NDP premier Glen Clark in the 1990s and which the Liberals opposed at the time but later embraced with even greater zeal and greed than that of the NDP – is all about MONEY.
The NDP desperately needed the cash to fight their deficit (remember the fudge-it budgets of the 1990s?). The Liberals, always ready to reward their rich pals and rip off the poor, suddenly thought it was a wonderful idea once they came to power, ignoring the criminal and social problems that the casinos continue to cause.
In 2011, during the Vancouver downtown casino controversy, both Kendall and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) recommended that the City of Vancouver NOT permit the proposed expansion of the casino.
Dr. John Carsley of VCHA said: “I want to mention the importance of DEVASTATING EFFECTS problem gambling does have. We’re talking about severe family disrupture, mental illness, attempted suicide.”
He also noted that it is a risk that is UNEQUITABLY spread through our population, noting, “The POOR, people with ADDICTIONS, people with MENTAL HEALTH issues, the young, first nations, are most at risk.”
Kendall backed those views. He said they reflected the Canadian Public Health Association’s position on gambling. [Capitalizations mine.]
Carsley told reporters that B.C. was spending $1.49 per adult on gambling treatment problems, compared to the national average of more than $3.
Interestingly, Mark Anielski, an adjunct professor of corporate social responsibility at the University of Alberta’s School of Business in Edmonton, pointed out a couple of years ago: “In Alberta, the provincial budget forecast for 2009-10 estimated that more money would come from gambling ($1.5 billion) THAN FROM OIL SANDS ROYALTIES ($1 billion). Of that $1.5 billion, which represents 4.7 per cent of total provincial forecast revenues, roughly 85 per cent will come from VLTs and slot machines.” [Capitalization mine.]
Clearly, it’s all about money – and to hell with the citizens!
– RATTAN MALL