The latest Angus Reid Institute survey contains some insightful data about gambling across Canada (“Gambling has a high cost,” editorial, Oct. 15). It’s worth noting this survey is national, and that gambling is conducted and managed quite differently in each province.

For example, most provinces in Canada permit video lottery terminals, a slot-type machine used in licensed premises outside of traditional gaming facilities. But here in B.C., all slot-type machines are permitted only in controlled environments such as casinos and community gaming centres. This allows the B.C. Lottery Corp. and its service providers to identify and assist players who might be in distress.

The poll confirms that a majority of British Columbians see value in the province conducting and managing gambling, with 71 per cent surveyed saying provincial involvement in gambling is more of a good thing than a bad thing, compared with 63 per cent across the country.

BCLC, acting on behalf of the province, takes a measured approach to increasing our business and relies on facts, marketplace assessments and community feedback. As with the management practices of most businesses, we explore growth opportunities when market demand and community interest exist.

Based on research conducted by Ipsos Reid on BCLC’s behalf, more than half of Greater Victoria residents think the region would see an overall benefit from adding a gaming and entertainment facility, and 69 per cent believe it would appeal to tourists. As your readers are likely aware, BCLC has a process underway to engage the municipality and various stakeholder groups in the details of what a proposed facility within the City of Victoria could include and to get community input.

Certainly, the Angus Reid poll provides some insights into how many Canadians feel they have been affected by, or know someone who has experienced, a problem with gambling. At BCLC, we don’t shy away from the reality that gambling addiction is a very real and significant issue for a small percentage of British Columbians, with the latest B.C. statistics showing 3.3 per cent of adults have moderate to high problems with gambling, of which 0.7 per cent are considered high (2014 Prevalence of Problem Gambling in B.C. study). These data are helping inform BCLC and the province’s Responsible and Problem Gambling Program services in the areas of prevention, education and treatment.

The RPG program services exist to support those negatively affected by gambling and provide community awareness of the risks, myths and facts about gambling. Recognition of the problem and the free supports available is key. Both the RPG program and BCLC provide information to gamblers and the public to increase this awareness.

BCLC’s GameSense program is a critically important service to gamblers. It presents information to players in a non-judgmental manner to promote responsible play, remove the stigma around problem gambling, and connect those who recognize they have a problem to the resources they need. When someone is ready to get help, GameSense can serve as a first step for a problem gambler.

The province’s Responsible and Problem Gambling Program provides several essential resources, including free confidential counselling and a 24-hour problem gambling helpline (1-888-795-6111) or directly through its website: bcresponsiblegambling.ca.

While a casino is just one of many entertainment options for a fun night out, our research shows that with the right type of proposal, it could be of interest to Victoria locals and visitors alike. As such, we’ll continue to be out in the community, hearing what people have to say and sharing details of where a new gambling facility could go and what it could look like.

In the end, as is always the case, it will be the community’s decision whether to move ahead with this opportunity.

Susan Dolinski is vice-president of communications and social responsibility for the B.C. Lottery Corp.

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-lottery-corporation-takes-measured-approach-1.2369069




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