Gambling Addiction

VLT gambling comes with high societal cost

The impetus for this request is that gambling addiction, especially pertaining to VLTs, is becoming a significant and growing health problem. As a result of promotion by government the most powerful and influential organization in society gambling addiction may one day equal social and health problems associated with alcohol abuse.

Increased accessibility and promotion of gambling cause a rapid increase in the incidence of addiction. In Alberta, with the longest history of gambling promotion, almost nine per cent of adults are considered problem gamblers.

An emotional addiction (Video lottery terminals)

The introduction of video lottery terminals (VLTs) to Ontario this fall has generated mixed emotions. The predicted windfall for the government ranges from $260 million to $550 million a year. Proceeds will also go to charities and site owners, and two per cent of government revenues are slated to fund gambling addiction prevention, treatment and research. But in western provinces, VLTs account for the majority of problems among people in treatment for compulsive gambling.

Here, four people with VLT addictions describe how their problems began. All names have been changed

Gambling women face rising addiction rate

When the glitzy Casino Windsor first opened, Paula plunked $100 into a slot machine. Within months she was lying to her husband, sneaking from the house and losing thousands.

``I would say I was going grocery shopping, but I would go to the casino all day. It was a euphoria I could not get anywhere else. I loved the sounds of a slot machine, the lights were like stars. I would go into a daydream.''

She lost $30,000. So Paula asked casino security to ban her.

Woman admits killing parents for poker money

A woman has confessed that she murdered her parents last week to get their life insurance money for her video-poker addiction, authorities said.

Sheriff Duane Blair said the 28-year-old woman admitted to shooting her father, 58, between the eyes as he lay in bed before going to another bedroom and shooting her mother, 51, in the chest.

The couple died Jan. 25, shortly after the woman went to their house to pick up one of her daughters. After putting the child in the car, she went back inside and killed the two with her father's gun, Blair said.

Better Living

HOST: Valerie Pringle

GUEST: Dr. Durand Jacobs, First Vice-President, National Council on Problem Gambling; Howard Faulkner, Director, Alberta Alcohol & Drug Abuse Commission

PRINGLE: Legalized gambling's an issue Canadians have debated fairly hotly over the years -- from lottery tickets to provincially-sanctioned casinos, which are springing up all over the place. It's an opportunity obviously for the provincial governments to make some money, but one social cost is an increase in gambling addition, which is the focus of a conference taking place in Alberta today.