The importance of effective responsible gambling policies and advice was again underlined this week by the announcement that Canadian provincial government authorities are hiring 9 responsible gambling information officers to educate casino staff and patrons on problem gambling.
The jobs are part of a long-term plan to deploy the officers in every casino, according to the assistant deputy minister of gaming policy, Derek Sturko. "We did a pilot program in 2005 at two Lower Mainland casinos and discovered that worked quite well. And this is part of our plan to grow that out to every casino gaming facility," he told CBC Canada.
Early intervention by the gambling information officers may prevent people from becoming problem gamblers, said Sturko, who added a decade of research showed no evidence that problem gambling was increasing in British Columbia.
The announcement immediately triggered political flak, with NDP gaming policy critic Harry Lali claiming the creation of the jobs constituted "…a stark admission by this government that Liberal policies are directly creating gambling addicts in this province. It is the massive expansion of gambling by Gordon Campbell and the Liberals that is creating this problem."
Since the B.C. Liberals came to power in 2001, revenue from casinos has doubled from Cdn$552 million to nearly Cdn$1.1 billion.
Private companies operate the 20 casinos for the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, which manages all legal gambling in B.C. for the provincial government.
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