EDITORIAL: Gambling needs greater effort

Existing program for problem gambling not doing enough prevention.

If the provincial government continues to promote – and profit – from gambling in B.C., it has a responsibility to take greater steps to help those who suffer from the numerous opportunities and avenues to place a bet.

Blocking problem gamblers from entering casinos through a voluntary self-exclusion system, including licence plate recognition systems and facial recognition software, clearly isn’t working.

It is, in fact, a farce.

There are more than 3,700 gamblers enrolled the self-exclusion system, but one-third of the 169 enrolled gamblers studied by researchers over a four-year period said they walked back in to place bets undetected.

Like alcohol and tobacco addictions, gambling can have devastating affects not only on an individual, but society as a whole with increased costs in social services.

That’s why identifying someone who might need help, and providing sources for that help, only makes sense.

Unlike a bartender in a pub, there’s no one in a casino to suggest to gamblers who beat a continual path to a slot machine or poker table that perhaps they’ve had enough.

A program such as Bar Watch, where identification is scanned when a person enters a establishment, might work, but there’s a fine line between helping someone and trampling their right to privacy.

Stakeholders such the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Gamblers Anonymous, the provincial government and B.C. Lottery Corporation should join forces to discuss the issues and come up with solutions.

You can bet without any help, the problems will only increase for everyone.

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