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a source for latest news, developments and reputable documentation and research on gambling. You'll find many helpful resources and links for anti-gambling advocates.
4/15/2010: Welcome AOTS attendees
For those of you who had the opportunity to hear Bill Clark speak at your conference this weekend, we hope you all had a great time.
Welcome to Gambling Watch Global!
We have a list of resources for you which were mentioned in Mr. Clark’s presentations; the search field at the top of the site is quite functional, feel free to use it. You’ll find years of research and news to assist you in building your knowledge base.
Leave a comment under this post. As well, if there is something specific you are looking for, fire off an email (Contact link at top of site) or ask in a comment, and we’ll do what we can to see you receive it.
Smith-Rubenstein Report on Accountability and Social Responsibility in Ontario’s Legal Gambling Regime for OPGRC 2009
Burrell, J. Victoria University Public Policy Implications of of Gambling Research Conference Summary
Burrell, J: RMIT University Values in Gambling Research and Implications for Public Policy 2003. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction for The Australia Gaming Council.
CBC Ottawa has a story of an addicted gambler who went to great lengths to manage her addiction, including signing into a voluntary exclusion program at Rideau Carleton Raceway. Despite her efforts, staff didn’t follow through.
She said she had her picture taken and signed an agreement promising to stay away from the site.
“I recall them telling me that they would, if they found me on the premises, have me arrested for trespassing,” she said.
Despite the agreement, the woman said she was able to return to the site several times to gamble.
“I was a little scared of Rideau Carleton because of what they said, but I thought well, I’ll take my chances,” she said. “So I went in, and nobody stopped me.”
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation runs the slots at the raceway. Paul Pellizzari, a spokesman for the OLG, said the self-exclusion policy isn’t a “policing” program.
“The most important aspect of detection is that it serves as a disincentive,” Pellizzari said. “Self-excluded players have told us, ‘If I know that there’s some kind of consequence of returning to the site, then it will keep me away.’”
Pellizzari said OLG is testing a facial recognition technology at the Woodbine Slots in Toronto. He said cameras at the entrance instantly match faces to photos of people who have chosen to be banned from the facility.
Pellizzari said OLG has yet to make a decision on whether the system will be installed at gambling facilities across the province.
Your letter of April 2, 2009 raises a number of concerns about problem gambling. I welcome the opportunity to respond to each issue you raise, and describe how OLG continuously seeks to expand its action plan to mitigate harm and risk associated with problem gambling. - Paul Pellizzari
“It is well documented that 40% of OLG gambling income comes from losses of 5% of gamblers and that just 20% of Ontarians provide 80% of the losses which the OLG call profit.” - Bill Clark
That information I gave above comes from a University of Lethbridge study released in June 2004: The Demographic Sources of Ontario Gaming Revenue. (Prepared for The Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre) The cost of this study was approximately 200 thousand dollars.
• We are aware of the study, authored by Williams and Wood 2004, which found that “about 35% of Ontario gaming revenue is derived from moderate and severe problem gamblers.”
The researchers qualify this finding as “tentative” because the sample size was small (i.e. 32 individuals), and therefore not representative of the general population. If you are aware of other studies, we would be interested in learning of these. -Paul Pellizzari
On November 17 1997, Time magazine published a simple graph in an article titled: Where Gambling Dollars Come From. Gambling profits depend on the losses of gambling addicts.
In terms of other studies may I direct your attention to letters written to the OLGC in your own files, prior to your Picov input study. And the 1999 Wynne study: Problem Gambling Public Awareness Campaigns in North America.
It seems to those of us, Ontarians concerned for the public health of our fellow citizens, that it is more than passing strange that even government agencies involved in gambling seem generally unaware of the existence of this report. Should we therefore be surprised that most of our “public” appears to be totally unaware of the dangers that gambling poses to an unaware and uninformed populace?
The OLGC’s attention was drawn to Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons May 2001. This issue was devoted to social and economic analysis of gambling. In this volume there is an article by two Canadian economists as well as other recognized professionals.
Canada has yet to produce a cost/benefit study, but other countries whose governments are not direct connected to promoting gambling revenue are more critical. Cost/benefit studies have been done in Australia, New Zealand, UK and the US.
What about the US National Gambling Impact Study (June 1999) where a great deal of sworn testimony was given to US Congress and data came directly from the American Gambling Association.
As a retired pharmacist, I am aware of drug companies which write their own product monographs without peer review. These product monographs are not acceptable for the AMA (American Medical Association), CMA (Canadian Medical Association), CAMH (Canadian Association of Mental Health), or Lancet.
The amount spent by the four Ontario casinos for marketing & promotion is reported to be greater than 500,000,000 dollars per year. This amount is over and above money allocated for regular OLG advertising (Toronto Star). When the OLG confirms that a 100 plus thousand dollars is spent marketing to one addict alone, (Hamilton Spectator) this expenditure goes beyond enticement and beyond basic decency.
• OLG relies on research from credible sources and seeks guidance through formal relationships with expert groups – including CAMH, Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, and the Responsible Gambling Council – on how best to apply the best available data to the development of RG policies and programs. - Paul Pellizzari
I have addressed that above. These are sources used by promoters, and all are paid for by gambling money. Balanced harm and cost reports are not included. I would suggest peer review. Can you tell me if any of these studies are reviewed by anyone other than promoters?
“$2 billion of advertising and promotion by the OLG in the last 10 years.”
• OLG advertising complies with provincial regulations under the Gaming Control Act. We have also gone further by developing strict internal ad and marketing guidelines.
• As part of the entertainment business, we advertise and promote our products. A large part of our marketing budget is spent by resort casinos competing for business with gaming facilities across the Canada-US border. - Paul Pellizzari
This amount is reported to be greater than 500,000,000 dollars per year and is over and above regular OLG advertising. See Andrew Chung, The Toronto Star; Who Should Pay (2004) and Casinos not taking chances in court (2009).
• All individuals who register for self-exclusion cease to receive distributions of all gaming advertising, promotions and complementaries. - Paul Pellizzari
Point #1. The OLG made the rules.
Point #3. Individuals may well cease to receive direct mailings and promotions, but are still subject to all the daily output of OLG advertising placed in newspapers, on TV, and all other visual stimuli. To a half million addicted people, this continuous input to the addictive mind is harmful.
The background article to CBC’s Playing the Machines looks at the fact that suicide related deaths are not nationally tracked and the Ontario gambling suicides are increasing. (Dave Seglins, Ontario gambling-linked suicides rise.)
The background article to CTV W5’s Winners and Losers looks at the failure in enforcement of the self-exclusion policy.
The OLG continues in denial. Take a look at the comments under the CBC article, or at any recent article on self-exclusion which permits comments. The public is waking up to lack of care.
There was a blanket denial from the OLG that lottery sales vendors could cheat winners at the distribution level for years. There is now a new self verification ticket machine in Ontario.
Perhaps Bob Edmonds didn’t die in vain. In his case the legal fees to fight him in court were greater than the prize he claimed. As the Canadian public well knows, the OLG apology to Edmonds did not arrive in his lifetime.
Now a new pollutant enters the public sphere.
I must congratulate OLG for turning a harmful criticism around (the Edmonds case) and into an wow marketing tool, a by-product of lotto ticket savvy and education. I’m talking about that stupid catchy funky voice that confirms every lottery ticket stuck in to a scanner, plays that lotto tune and announces “winner/ gagnant” . One finds one’s-self looking at the player the tune is directed at and wondering what the great prize may be.
It is hard to find a business where OLG does not pursue us. This is a new level of intrusion.
• OLG has also launched a major myth-busting campaign and launched educational tools such as the website KnowYourLimit.ca, and a video co-developed with the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre.
“$39M dollars spent this year on prevention and research…isn’t a lot” - Paul Pellizzari
Relative to the annual sum of player losses per year - approximately 1 cent per dollar is spent by the OLG for prevention and research. Most of this prevention money goes in new, unnecessary and yet more industry favourable and repetitive in-house research. 39 million dollars yearly for research and prevention out of the annual 6 billion OLG intake is not very much.
• Ontario’s problem gambling strategy is one of the best funded programs in North America, and likely the world. In 2009-10 this funding will increase to $40 million. Since fiscal year 1999-2000, approximately $322 million has been allocated to the Province, which includes an estimated $40 million allocation for Fiscal 2009-10.
• The amount allocated to the strategy is set by policy of the government of Ontario. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Health Promotion distribute these funds to independent researchers, addictions counselors and outreach experts. - Paul Pellizzari
It would be interesting to see the amount spent on treatment over the years compared to continual repeated research. Most of the people I speak to go to Gamblers Anonymous for treatment and find it hard. They are reluctant to talk and ashamed of themselves.
This repeated research remains self defeating because research already done is not being applied. We have read articles of Public Health employees who have been muted, or muzzled about speaking out on gambling problems. Nowhere do we hear people should cease gambling, we hear about responsible gambling.
Funding policies also mute public debate on social costs of gambling says critics (.pdf) Sue Bailey and Louise Elliott Canadian Press February 27, 2003, is an interesting article with good background.
I agree that Ontario has a well funded program comparative to the rest of North America. The question remains. How effective is that programs voice against a billion promotion dollars?
“OLG winner’s cards over the years have been used exclusively to reward addiction” - Bill Clark
The difficulty is that so much money is dependant on so few people, that one has to be very careful. Fully one third of OLG money comes from 5% of gamblers. Is the responsible gambling program promoted because OLG cannot afford to lose that segment of addicted support ?
A 2001 Picov study seemed to indicate that only 36% of Ontarians used OLG facilities and yes, it also mentions suicides.
• Player’s cards are optional. - Paul Pellizzari
However, the addicted mind cannot make a correct choice.
The addict wants his share of player rewards credited to his account.
He or she is going to plug in his card and connect just like pictures show - happy smiling addicts, all connected to the slots.
What about making player cards compulsory? Every one must use them. Have a policy such as Holland does; at first signs of self abuse, the player card privilege is cancelled.
That means no playing anywhere in Ontario.
OLG winner cards follow players in order to reward loss.
Holland analyses the same player information and determines rate of loss, but sets a point where gambling employees recognize reckless and addictive playing. The player is then flagged and is called into a casino office. There they are questioned on their ability to lose the amount they are playing and this is done to prevent active self abuse and criminal acts.
In Ontario OLG patrons do not have to sign up nor do they have to use the cards if they have one.
• When people indicate that they want to self-exclude to take a break from gambling their loyalty cards are rendered inactive. - Paul Pellizzari
That may be so, but by this time the harm is done, and if they must gamble, and they must, they are still admitted and OLG continues to cash in.
Rather than waiting until it is too late for the player, let the OLG take the initiative.
Program OLG computers to recognize addictive behaviors and assess the individual before it is too late. Look at behaviour and compare rates of loss to annual income averages. The OLG is perfectly equipped to cross reference information such as Switzerland does. (See the letter to former Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman from Dr. Paul Garfinkel, November 2004).
In April this year, 3 female players who reported having lost hundreds of thousands of dollars were recognized and rewarded for their addiction by the OLG.
A Quebec addict admitted he had a problem and went beyond signing a self-exclusion contract. He contacted the local casino by letter and phone asking the contract be honoured. I realize this occurred is Quebec, however his story demonstrates a point.
When I enquired of an OLG lottery agent about over selling tickets to an addict, she advised me in no uncertain terms that she was there to sell tickets.
When OLG and a self aware addict sign a self exclusion contact there is no stronger plea for help from an addict.
This act of self admission is not supported by the OLG. The OLG has defaulted on it’s contractual obligations.
“No drug has a higher suicide record than pathological gambling.”- Bill Clark
• We are not aware of any study that ranks the type of addiction as a determinant of suicide. Nevertheless, any death linked to gambling is of concern. For this reason, OLG has put in place various initiatives to help refer people to the professional guidance they need (see details below). - Paul Pellizzari
I find the above OLG statement very hard to accept. It has been awhile that I left pharmacy and I do not recall any drug with the continuous mention of suicide that is associated with pathological gambling. VLTs linked to “crack cocaine” VLTs and slots are interchanageable.
Quebec slots come with warnings “avant les idees suicidaires”
The Canada Safety Council has written the Prime Minister, premiers and provincial coroners about gambling suicide.
Nearly all peer reviewed studies link this complex and tragic side effect. Suicide is a side effect. Children of gamblers are far more like to commit suicide. See Canadian Roulette at the Canada Safety Council website.
All this makes me want to ask; where have you been?
Where are you now? Are you going anywhere with all this?
I would invite you to read Manitoba Gambling and Problem Gambling 2006. (.pdf) There is a section on suicide.
I also invite you to look at studies about Las Vegas and Atlantic City and their contracts with addicts, or Quebec coroner reports.
Regarding the use of the term, “gaming”, I appreciate that it may be a word more commonly used within the industry, OLG is less focused on such semantics and is working to continuously improve its role in the task at hand - which is to reduce harm associated with problem gambling.
In addition to addressing your specific issues, I’d like to provide an overview of our multi-pronged responsible gambling program:
• Prevention and Support through the creation of 24 on-site Responsible Gaming Resource Centers so far, run by renowned prevention experts, the Responsible Gambling Council. All gaming sites will have these centres by next year.
• The RGRCs serve as a bridge for referrals to professional help and community care
• Specialized training for all OLG staff, in particular our 6,000+ gaming employees using a curriculum designed by national addiction experts from CAMH.
• Contribution and support for research in problem gambling.
• Targeted education for players and the public about the realities of gambling through myth-busting and other materials, supported by the Know Your Limit campaign and website.
• Surveillance employees in all gaming facilities work with floor staff and security on all OLG Responsible Gaming programs.
• OLG slot machines issue a system alert to flag a self-excluded person who attempts to use a loyalty card for slot play.
• Pilot testing new technology in facial recognition designed for detection of self-excluded individuals. - Paul Pellizzari
How can anyone believe you (OLG) have any interest in citizens and their humanity until you stop aggressive saturation Pavlovian marketing?
If you want to train a laboratory rat to push a button, don’t reward him with a food pellet after every push - vary the number of pushes required for the payoff. Give him a pellet after 4 pushes one time, 16 the next, then 3, then 23.
By manipulating the length between payoffs researchers can led a rat, pigeon or human into addictive behaviors.
They could stretch the ratio to the point where the rat would literally drop over from exhaustion (Burt Constable, Pigeon, Rat or Human, Gambling Is Addictive. Daily Herald May 6, 2000)
How can the OLG be believed when your contractual obligations regarding self exclusion contracts are not enforced? It is known there are nearly 1/2 million problem gamblers in Ontario and that about 12 thousand have self-exclusion contracts. You acknowledged this in The Globe and Mail’s recent piece, The Big Bluff.
What is the point of these contracts if they aren’t enforced?
Again, thank you for your interest in our responsible gambling programs. For more information, please see KnowYourLimit.ca. - Paul Pellizzari
No addict knows their limit, no addict respects their limit, and no addict chooses to be an addict.
Is the OLG responsibly respecting self-exclusion contracts instead of blaming people who admit they need help?
There has to be better awareness by the OLG that gambling is addictive.
After 10 years of advocacy we have a remark and response from OLG.
Thank you for commenting.
3/2/2009: Letter to the Belleville Intelligencer
Re: Setting the record straight on racetrack and slots by Kelly McDougald Chief Executive Officer Ontario Lottery and Gaming
Interesting numbers from OLG. Lets see if I understand.
Ontario horses get 20 %, so far some 2.7 billion dollars. Municipalities get 5 %, so far some .48 billion dollars.
Gamblers lost 100 % to the tune of 12.72 billion dollars.
So humans get a nickel, horses get 20 cents, OLG gets the rest.
But, there is no mention of pari-mutual betting, no mention of lottery, no mention of Nevada tickets, bingo dollars etc…
Does anyone one know how much gambling money is leaving your community?
Doesn’t anyone think community money should go into community business first, so spin-off effects will benefit the community first?
We read that OLG benefits with 6 billion dollars of Ontario citizens losses. Put another way, this means that an average wage of about $30,000 earned by 200,000 Ontarians is lost to Ontario business.
Wow. 6 billion dollars. Six thousand million dollars could be $1,000.00 from 6 million people.
Alas, we are told 5 % of the population blow 35 % of the losses, the next 15 % blow 45 %, 80 % only contribute 20 % of the losses.
So, in those years some 430,000 (2004 report) Ontario citizens have become gambling addicts. Ontario refuses to track gambling suicides, the Canada Safety Council estimated 200 per year. (2004)
We read of dollars gambled by white collar workers in positions of trust. We read of courts being backed up by too many gambling cases. We read of gambling fraud, and jailed gamblers, even read that 32,000 are in jail for gambling fraud in California, which is a state with about the same population as Canada.
OLG has about 20 court challenges so far, half settled out of court, and subject to non disclosure. You can bet they will all be settled quietly, with non disclosure. After all what does a crown corporation charged with raising money for public health have to explain to Ontario citizens?
Set the record straight ?
There is something sad about government success which depends on addiction and losses of its citizens.
27 year old Thomas Noftall of Brampton is meeting behind closed doors today after being told by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation that his misprinted tickets are no good.
Noftall thought he had won the top prize of $75,000 — three such tickets were issued — plus an additional $60,000. There are million-to-one odds against winning one of the top prizes.
Don Pister, an OLG spokesperson, said three million Fruit Smash tickets had been printed.
Up to 1,100 of the $3 tickets had some improperly aligned symbols under the card’s scratchable surface, he said, adding the misprinted tickets had been pulled from stores the same day.
Real winning tickets are marked and determined in advance. Players don’t even have to scratch them to win. A scan of the ticket’s bar code should determine if it’s a true winner, Pister said.
The correct number of winning tickets had been distributed, he said.
“We’re apologizing to everyone and anyone who feels they were at all confused or inconvenienced by this,” Pister said.
“Provide us with a photocopy of the ticket and we will look at each ticket and determine whether or not it was a winner and deal with each customer individually.”
According to the bar code on the tickets, they aren’t winners according to the OLG. The past few days have been stressful for the steel worker. CBC:
For Noftall the past few days have been an emotional roller-coaster and he wants more from OLG than a simple apology.
“Me and my wife have been arguing about this, how to take care of this, and it’s causing us more stress than we need, right. And this is just me. Think of all those other people out there. There might be other people in even worse situations than me looking at this and going, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, my problems are fixed.’ And they’re just going to get a slap in the face for it and, here’s an apology,” he said during an interview on CBC Newsworld.
But the OLG appears to have foreseen such a circumstance and says it won’t be paying out.
“Our policy on misprinted tickets is to replace the ticket with a new one or provide a refund to the customer,” OLG spokeswoman Rula Sharkawi told the Canadian Press.
“[But] we do acknowledge that this has been a difficult and frustrating experience for Mr. Noftall, and we regret the pain that’s been caused to him by this rare printing error and any potential miscommunication on our part that may have contributed to his suffering.”
So far about 15 other “winners” have surfaced.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which regulates lotteries in Ontario, said it is aware of the situation and is investigating.
The OLG had net revenues of 6 billion in 2005-2006. They brag about their Lottery Prize Integrity Program.
Yet, they are known for fighting over winnings with the public, being lax about retailer ‘winners’ and the OLG lost a great deal of public trust when they dragged out a legal battle not to pay out to Bob Edmonds who fought the OLG on a 250 thousand dollar payout/theft for six years. Bob Edmonds died in April 2007 at the age of 83, three days after the OLG issued an apology and paid his legal fees. He never got to see the apology. His story sparked the investigation by the provincial ombudsman.
Andre Marin Ontario’s Ombudsman released an 89 page report in March 2007 called A Game of Trust, which looked at how the provincial agency handled fraud and theft with it’s lottery tickets.
The OLG is responsible for printing and distributing it’s scratch tickets out of it’s plant in Sault Ste. Marie and for recalling a bad batch. If a member of the public buys a scratch ticket that the OLG has put on the market, it is the OLG’s responsibility to pay up. They don’t see it that way and will fight over a dollar to hoard millions. People are angry a 6 billion dollar branch of the government thinks ‘opps, sorry’ is enough. Most disputes consumers have with the OLG are settled with lawyers and none disclosure agreements. The OLG has always hidden behind none disclosure agreements when the public (taxpayers) should be aware that gambling proceeds that are destined for public health are not spent in the public health interest. The public deserves to know where their money is going.
We don’t even know how much the OLG puts into public health, the OLG is not interested in considering public health costs. They do not appear to be interested in acting in good faith with taxpayers.
Meantime at this hour a 27 year old steelworker who has been given mixed messages may be bullied into a none disclosure agreement because of another OLG mistake.
Anyone willing to lay odds Mr. Noftall walks away the loser?
The OLG has received 15 complaints from other ticket holders as of today
When was the misprint discovered?
When was the recall?
UPDATE: Noftall is out of his meeting with the OLG. No one is talking. CP:
An Ontario man who says misprinted scratch-and-win tickets made it appear he had won $135,000 has received a “payment” from lottery officials but adds he didn’t get his dream.
Thomas Noftall says after having officials with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. explain the rules to him during a meeting in Toronto, he acknowledged he did not have a winning ticket.
He says OLG officials apologized for the misprinted tickets and reached a settlement with him, but he could not disclose any details for legal reasons.
A lottery spokeswoman says they have made a “payment” to Noftall but would also not disclose any details.
Gaming chief admit odds against pokie players Australia
December 07, 2008 Laurie Nowell The News
PLAYING pokies (slots) is a mug’s game — and even the industry itself has finally admitted the odds are stacked against the punters.
New data released by the Gaming Technology Association reveals the longer you play poker machines in a single session, the less likely you are to win.
Research shows about 31 per cent of players investing 2000 units, or coins,
can expect to win back more than they bet — but only 24 per cent of punters investing 5000 units will come out ahead.
And just 16 per cent of those gambling 10,000 units can expect to walk away with a profit.
Overall, the return to players is about 90 in every dollar put into a machine, according to the data.
“Your chance of winning a prize on each line of a game is about one in 10, or,
you have a nine in 10 chance of not winning,”
the GTA’s online guide says.
The likelihood of winning a prize more than 500 times the stake is one in 10,000, it says.
“It is important to understand that gaming machines are not designed to make you money on a regular or long-term basis. In fact, you should expect to lose money.
“Mathematical probability proves you can’t apply any form of skill to beat a game that uses a random number generator.
“The more you play, the less likely you are to win.”
GTA chief executive Ross Ferrar said the guide was the machine manufacturers’ response to calls for improved information about gaming machines. It also sets out tips for gamblers:
* Set yourself limits. Don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose.
* Keep a record of your wins and losses so you know how much you have spent.
* Drink alcohol in moderation while you are playing.
* Keep your winnings.
See related articles in the category on the left sidebar: Australia, Wisdom and its absence by bill clark
Re: “Notice for Slots Players by makers of slot machines”
The combination of addiction and financial losses does make suicide a logical way out.
9/25/2008: Good advice. Avoid cra$h flow
Ban on betting would boost ailing economy gambling critic says
September 23, 2008 PhysOrg
Congress should resurrect the nationwide gambling ban that existed through most of the 20th century to help soothe a fragile U.S. economy shaken by the worst credit and financial crisis in decades, a University of Illinois professor and national gambling critic says.
John W. Kindt argues that gambling is a multi-billion dollar drag on the economy, not the moneymaking boost touted by supporters. Cash merely changes hands from bettors to casino owners, he says, creating no products or anything else of value.
If the estimated $100 billion now spent annually on gambling – mostly slot machines – went into consumer spending instead, economic models show it would generate more than $300 billion for the nation’s slumping economy and create jobs and services, said Kindt, a professor of business and legal policy. He says Congress should also repeal more than $40 billion in tax write-offs for slot machine owners.
A ban also would save hundreds of billions in costs to society stemming from gambling addictions, bankruptcies and crime that studies show increases when casinos open, he said.
“No. 1, a ban would pump prime the economy,” Kindt said. “No. 2, it would lower pressure on taxes because you wouldn’t have as many new addicted gamblers, bankruptcies and crime. So you’re eliminating substantial social costs, you’re improving quality of life overall and as John F. Kennedy said, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ ”
A ban would not solve the lingering economic turmoil that has left the nation teetering on the brink of recession, said Kindt, who has studied gambling since Illinois first allowed riverboat casinos nearly two decades ago.
“But it’s a step in the right direction and would halt the spread of gambling that is destabilizing world economies and financial markets,” he said.
“It also would send good economic signals to less stable countries that they can’t gamble their way to prosperity.”
Kindt said Russia re-criminalized 2,230 casinos and slot machine facilities in 2007.
“What do the Russians know that the U.S. hasn’t figured out?” he said.
Kindt says gambling has spawned a potentially dangerous speculative bubble in international financial markets as decades of industry growth have created exaggerated expectations that far outstrip real value. If the bubble bursts, he says, the ripple effect on the U.S. economy could rival the subprime mortgage crisis that sparked the nation’s latest economic woes.
“In the subprime crisis, at least you had some real estate in assets,” Kindt said. “What assets do you have with gambling? Slot machines? Gambling is built on sand. There’s nothing there. It isn’t built on rock.”
Markets outside the U.S. have already seen the potential consequences, he said. A Gibraltar-based gaming company saw its London Stock Exchange value plunge from $10 billion to $2.4 billion in one day after the U.S. voted to increase sanctions on Internet gambling in 2006.
“It’s fun and games,” Kindt said of the gambling industry. “The question is do you want fun and games, addicted gamblers, bankruptcy and crime or do you want economic development and international financial stability?”
While states routinely turn to gambling as a quick, short-term fix for revenue shortfalls, Kindt says history shows betting isn’t the answer. He said President Franklin D. Roosevelt used jobs programs and other initiatives – not gambling – to pull the nation out of the deepest depression in modern times.
“The point is you didn’t see FDR and you won’t see the federal government saying that gambling will save us,” Kindt said. “It’s just the opposite.”
He says the 1999 U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission called for a moratorium on the expansion of any type of gambling anywhere, but the move failed in the face of opposition by the gambling industry’s powerful lobby.
But he says gambling critics hope their odds improve based on talk during this year’s presidential campaign to limit the influence of special interests in Washington.
“If people really want to take risks, they should take educated risks as entrepreneurs or with the stock market,” Kindt said. “They also should ask if slot machines are ‘fair.’ “
9/22/2008: Vulnerable consumers
What’s distressing about Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s listeriosis “joke” is not that he has a streak of black humour running through his soul. Most of us do. Nor is it that he made a comment in bad taste. Many suffer lapses of judgment.
Rather, Ritz’s remark is unnerving because it is far too indicative of the Conservative government’s casual attitude toward an epidemic that has already killed 18.
Indeed, most authorities have been remarkably sanguine about the contaminated cold-cut scandal. Even as victims were dying, the mood of officialdom was eerily self-congratulatory.
“This is an example of where our surveillance system worked,” federal Health Minister Tony Clement said last month. Meanwhile, Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty lavished praise on his officials for recognizing “that we had a real issue.”
Even most media have been relatively blasé, treating this epidemic as just one of those things – tragic perhaps, but unpreventable.
But is it? The editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal certainly don’t think so. They issued a blistering editorial this week in their peer-reviewed journal, which is hardly a radical mouthpiece.
Their points are worth repeating:
First, this outbreak is not just one of those things that occur from time to time. It is the “worst epidemic of listeriosis in the world.”
Second, the ultimate cause is not the listeria bacterium. Rather it “may” lie in what the journal calls “risky government decisions” to hand over food inspection to the food companies themselves.
Third, those decisions – which the journal says have “reversed much of the progress” made in the field of public health – have affected far more than cold cuts. By letting animal feed mill operators inspect themselves, Ottawa has increased the risk of mad cow disease. By cutting back Canada’s bird flu program, it has left the country open to a major pandemic. more
Letter to Thomas Walkom
The Toronto Star
Monday Sept 22, 2008
Thank you for excellent article. Read and reread it a number of times.
Then I found an article January 9, 2005 which begins with a letter from the CMAH to the Ontario minister of Health George Smitherman.
The letter refers to nearly half a million addicted gambling Ontarians.
Have we had an up to date tally on other addictions, alcohol, tobacco, and substance abuse ?
The title suggests “Addicts simply unable to make right choices”.
This certainly ties into “No joke for vulnerable consumers.”
Prime target market for OLG when citizens cannot make right choices.
There is not a report written, a mention, a reference, a prevalence number, a public health link, that does not connect suicide as a side effect of gambling. In spite of The Canada Safety Council writing to every Prime Minister; of numbers upwards of two hundred plus suicides per year, do media and public health departments pay attention?
In Canada gambling money goes to Public Health with no regard to costs to citizens.
All the same points are worth repeating.
Self regulation ?
Prime example in court room in Hamilton. OLG publishes a statement that it spent $133,000 in perks and comps on Paul Issacs to siphon some $500,000 plus, from Paul Issacs mother’s bank account. This occurred over a ten year period.
What a cruel relentless pursuit of an addicted gambler.
If pit bulls can be outlawed; aren’t these social pit bulls?
As you finish, ” when you have a powerful incentive to make short term profits, collisions can occur”
one result is crash flow.
California which is similar size to Canada reports 32,000 gambling citizens in jail.
Certainly there is no duty of care.
I realize your article was on Listeriosis, but it could have been on gambling.
Maybe the next one should be.
9/19/2008: Letter to Montreal Gazette
As a retired Quebec community pharmacist, I feel I must disagree and state that Lotto Quebec must be held responsible.The total concept that gambling is entertainment and not without risk has never been true. If I had charge and was responsible for narcotics and addictive chemicals, then Lotto Quebec must be held responsible for marketing an equally addictive product without any responsibility. Addictive products were designated by the Food & Drug department, and gambling produces same addictive characteristics, including brain chemical changes. A simple CSA sticker stating that the machine is grounded, etc, is not adequate as a warning.
People are not born gamblers. They become gamblers when exposed to certain sequence of lucky hits. (B F Skinner) The Pavlovian aspects of gambling were summarized as “pigeon, rat or human“, to whom gambling is addictive. If you want to train a laboratory rat to push a button, don’t reward him with a food pellet after every push - vary the number of pushes required for the payoff. Give him a pellet after four pushes one time - 16 the next time, then three, then 23.By manipulating the length between payoffs, researchers can lead a rat, pigeon, or human into addictive behaviours. They could stretch the ratio to the point where that rat would literally drop from exhaustion. These principles led to the “ concept of gambling addiction “ as the variable schedule of reinforcement which would operate to produce an addiction to gambling in a percentage of the public“. (see Michigan State Law review Vol 2003 Summer Issue 2 p 302) VLTs and slot machines today are the fine tuned instruments to maximize this effect. Nevada, break open tickets, scratch tickets, and many lottery product tickets are the equivalent of disposable paper slots used to enlarge the market. This allows equally addictive products at every corner store, and sadly on every counter in every drug store that stopped selling tobacco products. If you want to see this in action, grab a coffee, go and sit next to a lottery counter, watch and observe people buy and scratch tickets…some are break open tickets, observe many return time after time to buy more, and more and more. Many parents share them with children to open and share. Same routine, many, day after day. Especially when welfare or pension cheques come in. Can this be termed predatory by this practice ?
Anyone can pick out an addict, and all of the ticket sellers know those who are addicted, and many “players” know they are addicted.
How many ? a 2004 letter to Ontario Minister of Health mentioned close to 500,000 addicted gamblers just in Ontario.
If one pathological gambler has a spouse, a child, a parent, a boss maybe, that is a huge number of affected Canadians What kind of government subverts its own tax paying citizens, creates addicts needing extra public health services, who for themselves can only serve their addiction ? We now have well over one million Canadians . As a pharmacist, I am sure this product from a pharmaceutical company never would have been allowed. But in this industry, promoters cannot be regulators. EVERY gambling study warns of elevated suicide numbers caused by this addiction. If this side effect were allowed to go unchecked in Pharmacy, as in all provincial gambling, Public Health would scream. Gaming, le jeu, is classed as entertainment, and the public is allowed to over dose on this entertainment.. And, the best part, the promoters blame the addict. It is so easy, voluntary, yes, his/her choice. Well, in this addiction, the addict has no choice. compulsive, pathological, yes, mess your pants, wear depends, whatever, this is addiction, but duty of care. I don’t think so.
Poor Paul Isaacs…(in litigation in Ontario) a gambler in Hamilton On . over a 10 year period The Ontario Lottery Corporation invested $133,000 to assure his continued addiction all the while draining his mothers bank account, and OLG ended up a million dollars ahead. Bad enough to be addicted, perks are one thing, enticement is another, your own hostess… catering to every desire wow, hard for any one to handle. Harassment ? assigned a personal $ocial pit bull by the casino. The last 11 litigation’s in Ontario, OLG has settled out of court imposing non disclosure . A crown corporation, for public health, not wanting that the public know the dangers of addiction. That is why, as you state, gambling as a social health problem, and solving it is their responsibility, and duty. .
In 100,000 + persons involved in this Quebec litigation, you mention a $$ amount, why doesn’t anyone assess the individuals side? How many years, yes, family years, employers, and workplace, are suffering in all of this. No dollar amount will bring back a lost son. NO one heeded the letters from the Canadian Safety Council to all premiers about gambling suicide. Perhaps, if the papers printed a little photo and story, of each suicide in Canada from gambling. Would attitudes change ? Especially, promoters being self regulators… ? If, just if, gambling was a private business, not tied to tax raising for government, our public health authorities would be screaming……a new epidemic… maybe even G difficile. (gambling), or G (overnment)
In the end, one must see the casino’s self interest . Reports tell us that 35 + % of the gambling money comes from a small 5 % of people, they need addiction to prevent crash flow. !
w a clark B.Ph. L.Ph. B.Ed north bay on
7/28/2008: Belleville & Slots
Letter to Editor: Belleville Intelligencer
It is hard to believe that Belleville is going to have a race track and slots.
One Ontario non unionized slot needs 3 jobs to feed it.
OLG operates 24,000 +/- slots, that work 24/7 to divert up to 100,000 job contributions away from Ontario economy.
Add in AGCO Nevada, bingo, Lottery, pari-mutual, and other gambling, but not to mention gambling related social costs.
Below are a few paragraphs of this summer’s news clips, partial, with source, not all local, which may help explain why the racetrack is a social disaster.
This is a fraction of the news that is out there, but alas, no one heeds.
Gambling addiction has created a sad new class of addict, and hence,
crime to support a new habit.
Three provinces have class action suits in progress.
OLG financing the race track is one thing, but why is this crown corporation gambling with the health and lives of its citizens?
New study rejects economic benefits
Brown, Damien Source: News.com.au Published Date: Jul 23, 2008
AUSTRALIA - Gambling in Tasmania is not a substantial contributor to economic or jobs growth, a major study has found.
And it said there was a link between serious crime and substance abuse and problem gambling.
The long-awaited Social and Economic Impact Study into Gambling in Tasmania was made public yesterday.
The report found claims the gambling industry significantly contributed to economic growth was not substantiated.
It also found there was no real evidence the introduction of gaming machines had a positive impact on employment or tourism
Gambling revenue declines across U.S.
July 27, 2008 6:00 AM
The realization — after years of steady, healthy gains — that the gaming industry isn’t immune to the distress of a troubled economy couldn’t have come at a worse time for Massachusetts.
“It’s ugly,” Andrew Zarnett, gambling analyst with Deutsche Bank AG of New York, said of the revenue losses and declining stock prices that have thrown the industry for a loop. “There’s an overall uncertainty in the economy and gaming is feeling the impact. It’s really bad.” From southeastern Connecticut to Atlantic City to Las Vegas, gaming operators are pulling in less revenue, leading to dramatic declines in stock prices for many of the companies that would be interested in developing the types of resort casinos envisioned by Gov. Deval Patrick From southeastern Connecticut to Atlantic City to Las Vegas, gaming operators are pulling in less revenue, leading to dramatic declines in stock prices for many of the companies that would be interested in developing the types of resort casinos envisioned by Gov. Deval Patrick.
No one’s doing a happy dance
Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal July 7, 2008
THE Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., spends large sums from the millions that it takes from gamblers to advertise the winners. You‘ve seen their smiling faces in the pages of this newspaper. You‘ve heard ecstatic new millionaires exclaim on radio and TV about their astounding luck. Other ads show a bunch of office workers doing their “happy dance” after getting the call from OLG. It‘s all good, or so it seems.
What the corporation doesn‘t advertise are the victims of its success. They won‘t show you the sad faces of the thousands of Ontarians who have lost everything in the firm belief that just one more bet will be the big one. The gambling arm of the Ontario government does not tell you that your odds of winning much more than a free ticket are extremely unlikely and that the odds of winning a million dollars are astronomical. But you should continue to practise that happy dance because, hey, someone‘s got to win, right?
The folly of that belief walked into a Thunder Bay courtroom Friday in the person of a 65-year-old grandmother. Madeline Flontek‘s descent into gambling addiction will hit bottom when she enters jail for 14 months while her husband comes out of retirement to begin paying back the $673,000 his wife stole from her employer.
The longtime bookkeeper and controller of a local contracting company, Mrs. Flontek wrote cheques to herself from the company account and, as her addiction escalated over the course of four years, took cash advances on the company credit card and cashed in all of her RSPs.
Every penny went straight into OLG‘s Thunder Bay Casino which hands a tiny portion of its enormous annual profit to the city, ostensibly to offset the damage that it does to lives and to the local economy.
Omaha Nun Sentenced To Prison For Theft
KETV News July 11, 2008
OMAHA, Neb. -An Omaha nun who admitted stealing money from the local archdiocese has been sentenced to prison.
Sister Barbara Markey and her supporters had expected her to get probation after pleading guilty to stealing more than $250,000. Instead, the judge gave her a three-to-five-year prison sentence, saying probation would have promoted disrespect for the law.
“I’m shocked and disappointed,” said defense attorney Bill Gallup. “If ever a person deserved to be put on probation, it was this nun.
“I don’t think the whole story has been told at all,” Markey said, as she was being escorted out of a Douglas County courtroom Friday.
Markey, 73, had taken the money to fund vacations, homes and a gambling addiction.
Problem gamblers launch suit against Ontario gaming body
COREY LAROCQUE Niagra Falls Review June 13 2008
Public Health raises awareness of problem gambling
Help is available in Hamilton March 21, 2008
Tell a friend Gambling may be more of a problem than you think, according to a recent survey, where 3.8 per cent of people in Ontario identified moderate to severe problems with gambling.
That equates to approximately 341,000 ** ( 2003 ##s)
Ontarians who feel there have been negative consequences associated to their gambling behaviour. Studies also indicate that the ripple effect of problem gambling affects others in connection with gamblers: family members, friends, employers and co-workers may also be affected by someone’s gambling.(5+ min)
Canada has a gambling problem
Source: Globe and Mail Andre Picard January 06, 2005
One of the most pervasive fantasies of Canadians is hitting the jackpot — a financial windfall from winning the lottery, or striking it rich at the casino or the video lottery terminal in the neighbourhood bar.
It is a costly fantasy.
Revenues from government-run gambling operations exceeded $11.8-billion in 2003. That is a four-fold increase in just a decade. (And, to put that number in perspective, consider that the goods and services tax, the dreaded GST, brings in about $29-billion a year.)
The health and social costs of gambling — and problem gambling in particular — are a lot more difficult to quantify. But they include increased costs for policing, courts, prisons, medical care, social assistance and economic losses to individuals and businesses.
The havoc wreaked on communities and the undermining of our redistributive taxation system — one of the single greatest benefits to the health of Canadians — is rarely discussed.
The devastation, in terms of lives lost and families destroyed, is incalculable. Where there is gambling, there is increased violence, including higher rates of child abuse and domestic violence.
By some estimates, between 200 and 400 suicides in Canada are directly related to pathological gambling and the hopelessness it engenders. The number of attempted suicides related to gambling is likely five times higher.
Councillors want a bigger take from Ottawa’s slot machines
Jake Rupert The Ottawa Citizen July 10, 2008
(There is not a community that takes money from OLG that is happy with the arrangements… especially the business communities.)
Betting on gambling revenue is risky business for Ontario
Christina Blizzard Kingston Whig Standard July 5, 2008
From the auto industry to farming to forestry, this province’s traditional industries have been hammered by the soaring dollar and the price of oil.
These once noble industries of workers who made a living from the honest sweat of their brows are teetering on the brink.
And what does the province want to replace this bedrock of our economy with?
Apparently, all the Liberals have to offer is a plan to allow sports betting in casinos.
Your government is going into competition with organized crime? Hey, why let the little crooks make all the dough when you could have the OLG run things for them? Even provincial Ombusdman Andre Marin has criticized the government’s addiction to gambling revenues. A new revenue stream based on the weakness of humanity will really place our economy on a sound economic basis.
( losses of fewer than 5 % of population contribute 40% of OLG wins)
Prague- Some 80 percent of Czech municipalities would like to limit gambling on their territory, Dzamila Stehlikova, minister for human rights and minorities, told journalists today, referring to a survey she ordered.
Over 85 percent of the municipalities said the negative effects of gambling, such as crime, were more serious than the financial effects of casinos to their budgets, the survey conducted on some 100 municipalities showed.
A working group recommended that the new law on gambling, currently drafted by the Finance Ministry, limit gambling to special premises “to protect adolescents and people from socially excluded communities from the offer that is everywhere, in cafes, restaurants, hotels, at train stations and many other places,” Stehlikova said.
She said many of the poor spend their welfare benefits in casinos.
The group also agreed that a fund should be established to subsidise campaigns against gambling.
Prevention campaigns should focus mainly on children, youths and socially excluded communities, but also women and senior citizens.
Gambling with science
Determined to defeat lawsuits over addiction, the casino industry is funding research at a Harvard-affiliated lab.
Eliza Strickland Salon June 16, 2008
Jean Brochu was a respectable attorney in Quebec with a wife and two kids. That was before he first punched the button on a video slot machine in 2000. Within 15 months, Brochu says he was losing $500 a day to the machines. He plunged headlong into debt, and lost his car and his house. He stole $50,000 from his union, and was consequently disbarred for three months. He claims that in several dark moments he contemplated suicide. He also says it was all the fault of those slot machines.
Now Brochu is the lead plaintiff in a massive class action lawsuit against Loto-Quebec, the government agency that runs all forms of gambling in the province. Brochu’s lawyer, Roger Garneau, says he filed the suit on behalf of the estimated 119,000 gambling addicts in Quebec province. Garneau says the slot machines dragged these citizens into addiction. “They have been conceived and constructed for trapping the mind,” he says. The suit asks for almost $700 million in damages.