• author:

    C. Poulin
  • published in

    : 2006
  • summary

    : The first elephant is the inequitable distribution of the risks and benefits of gambling in our society. In theory, government gambling revenues benefit all of society. In reality, since gambling revenues go into general revenue pots, individuals who do not participate in gambling activities end up being the biggest winners because they benefit without having invested anything. Furthermore, a disproportionate number of individuals who participate in certain gambling activities (e.g., video lottery terminals [VLTs]) are from disadvantaged groups in our society.2 Decisions and policy pertaining to gambling need to be based on a full accounting of the health, economic and social benefits and costs of gambling, rather than on only the short-term benefits of employment and tax revenue. The causal link between problem gambling and the expansion of government-sanctioned gambling opportunities has not been clearly demonstrated. However, a recent natural experiment in Nova Scotia has provided crucial evidence that public policy acting to decrease the availability of gambling opportunities can be effective in stemming problem gambling. In November 2005, the provincial government removed 1000 VLTs from licensed premises, lowering the number of VLTs previously available in Nova Scotia by 30%. This action, combined with a midnight shutdown and the removal of the "stop" button on VLTs (the button fooled gamblers into thinking that they had control over the machine), resulted in a decrease in VLT gambling activities and VLT-related problem gambling.4 Furthermore, although the total annual amount wagered on VLTs in Nova Scotia had increased in previous years, it decreased by 8.4% from the 2004/05 to the 2005/06 fiscal year, from $895.1 million to $820 million respectively.5 The cost to the provincial government was a decrease of 11.4% in VLT revenues, from $132.6 million to $117.4 million. Given how difficult it is to effect behavioural change at the individual and population levels, the changes to the VLT program can be judged to have been cost-effective, particularly since the government did not have to implement an ongoing program to achieve this result.
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  • type

    : article in journal
  • publisher

    : Canadian Medical Association
  • is part of a publication

    : Canadian Medical Association Journal
  • volume

    : 175
  • issue

    : 10
  • original language

    : English
  • article pagination

    : start page: 1208 - end page: 1209
  • keywords

    : federal government , gambling , health promotion , medical treatment , public health , revenue
  • Article entered in GambLIB database on jan. 28. 2009, 13:01
  • Item added by staff