Legal gambling is on the rise in Alberta and now the idea of a new online casino could be on the cards, but not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. In the last year, legal gambling revenues in Alberta have surged by five per cent.
Those who enjoy a gamble every now and again pumped some $25 billion dollars into video slots and lottery machines in the last year alone. And now the Gaming and Liquor Commission in Alberta are considering creating an online betting website, similar to those thriving in countries like the United Kingdom and Australia.
Experts believe it could easily add another $150 million to Alberta’s revenue pockets; but it’s those who gamble and have a problem with it who are worrying some in Alberta’s hierarchy. There are those who argue that the NDP government should be looking to limit the amount of gambling going on in Alberta, rather than increasing it.
Prof Garry Smith from the University of Alberta estimates that four per cent of all gamblers are problem betters, and these people generate as much as 40 per cent of all the revenues. Prof Smith has studied the effects on society, community and the economy where gambling is concerned.
The professor highlights the fact that while the government seems seduced by the extra revenue legal gambling brings in, there is a social factor that is being ignored or swept under the carpet. Serious gambling addicts may even be forced to turn to crime or lending to feed their addictive gambling habits.
There has even been concerns that the introduction of an online casino or betting website could see some children and minors steal their mother or fathers’ credit card and gamble away thousands of dollars.
The addiction to gambling has even been compared to drug addiction. In this arena of social problem it is very much talked about and the crime that prevails because of it. Gambling does not get nearly as much bad press – at least not yet anyway.
Liberal head David Swann agrees that we should be doing more about combating addictions and helping those with social problems, rather than just feeding them more fuel for getting into problems surrounding gambling habits.
Mr Swann also pointed out that more drinking and increased opportunities to gamble can create a lower quality of family health, social problems and a loss of productivity in the work place.
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