Sunday, May 01, 2005


Showdown on 5th Street

Gambling has become one of the hot topics in Canada of late. Many provinces are making millions and millions of dollars off casinos and VLTs. In fact, the province of Alberta takes in almost more in gambling revenue than in corporate tax.

Not all, however, is lost (figuratively). Gamblers in one Nova Scotia city now have a smart new tool to help themselves from going wild on lottery machines. In an experiment to address the issue of problem gambling, every video lottery terminal in every bar and legion hall in Windsor has been modified to allow a new "smart card" to pay a gambler's bills.

The card can watch how much money you spend daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. If you don't want to spend over $20 per day, or per week, or per month, you can set it up so that if you're using your card, you cannot use this.

The smart-card program is voluntary now – part of the provincial government's strategy to address gambling addiction. But by the fall, people who want to spend money at a VLT in Windsor will have no choice but to use a smart card. And if the program succeeds, it could be rolled out across Nova Scotia next year.

But some critics, such as Liberal MLA Manning MacDonald, think the smart card is a dumb idea. MacDonald calls VLTs "the crack cocaine of gaming" and says there is only one solution to the gambling problem. "What we have to do is get those machines out of the province."

MacDonald must subscribe the old - see no evil, hear no evil trick. Gambling, like prostitution, is a fact of life. As soon as politicians deal with it, the sooner policy makers can construct plans to combat problems.

I also posted this article on my site,along with many others related to this issue. As I said there, maybe someone can answer a question? What does "if you use your card and hit the pre-set limit, you can not use THIS" mean? If they use another credit card can they keep playing. I am a comppulsive gambler, but have never played VLTs in Canada and am unsure of how they are set up? Are all the pubs linked together or does the gambler just go across the street?

But, in any event, as I also said...ANYTHING is better than nothing. I appreciate you posting the article at all. There is very little on this issue in the blogosphere.

While sitting in the departures terminal, at the Edmonton International Airport, I was given a survey from a representative of the Airport Authority. One of the questions was concerning forms of entertainment - and I was slightly concerned when I was asked if I would support VLTs being added to the Airport for clients and customers. It seems there is no limit (not even the sky) to the potential of VLTs, sadly.
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