EDITORIAL: Gambling policy at odds with health

Arms-length body needed to investigate problem gambling in B.C.

The B.C. government collects significant revenue from gambling in all of its forms, yet is also responsible for protecting its most vulnerable citizens.

Such a quandary places at odds a finance ministry charged with balancing the provincial budget with a health ministry whose mandate is to not only care for the sick, but to promote wellness within the population.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall’s report outlining the government’s shortcomings in addressing problem gambling in B.C. raised our eyebrows. Not only did the document paint a vivid picture of how addiction develops – primarily, but not limited to fast-play electronic slot machines – it hinted at problems which may develop in the future, such as the online grooming of teens and young adults to become regular gamblers.

For as long as there have been outcomes to bet on in this province, whether it be mah-jong, horse races, 6/49 tickets or sports games, a certain segment of the population has taken that opportunity to the extreme and spent more than they should on the pastime.

For decades, the B.C. Lottery Corporation has promoted gambling in various forms, while only relatively recently adding the tagline to its ads, “Know your limit, play within it.” Clearly, the government has little appetite to distance itself from what has become a major cash cow that funds a broad spectrum of services.

The best way to solve the problem gamblers conundrum is to create an arm’s-length organization to work with the health ministry and University of Victoria-based Centre for Addictions Research to create resources and solutions aimed at reducing the effect of problem gambling on B.C. residents.

Such a group would report directly to the legislature and, in theory, be free from the political interference that tends to seep into ministry-led research or initiatives.

That B.C. lags well behind other provinces in funding prevention and treatment programs for addicted gamblers proves how low it is on the Liberals’ priority list. It’s time for the government to take its collective head out of the sand on this issue and take real steps to address this growing problem.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People-less protest in Victoria holds space for victims of police brutality, systematic racism

People are asked to come learn the names of the lives lost to the hands of racism

Victoria police arrest two people during ‘tweet-a-long’ Strike Force operation

VicPD offering ‘behind the scenes’ look at the operation

VIDEO: View Royal resident spots cougar in nearby backyard

B.C. Conservation notified about early Thursday morning sighting

Greater Victoria tourism industry ‘can’t wait any longer’ for financial aid

Saanich mayor, business owners call on provincial, federal governments for tourism-specific aid

COVID-19 demolishes new construction in Greater Victoria

Value of new building permits in Greater Victoria drop more than 37 per cent

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Man found dead in his tent at Island homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

Most Read