Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Social Cost Of Problem Gambling On The Increase

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
In the ten years since Ontario opened its first government-run casino, chief provincial coroner Barry McLellan says gambling-related suicides have been steadily on the rise and could reach 15 this year, an all-time high and more than double what it was just two years ago. "Information would suggest that problem gambling or gambling addiction is a significant societal problem that's contributing to death," McLellan recently told CBC News. In fact, he suspects the actual number could be higher, since there are many suicides where gambling is a factor, but not the immediate cause of death. He cited the example of a diabetic who died when he refused to stop playing a slot machine so he could take his medication or get something to eat. As Canadian Press noted, a new study by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre found that about 4.8% of people in the province have a gambling problem. They also gamble away close to $1.4 billion a year. And yet the government is still considering whether to open more casinos. "It's an invisible problem," Bonnie Orvidas, the problem gambling program coordinator for Addiction Service of Thames Valley, told the London Free Press. "And that's why gamblers can get into serious difficulty, because even the people who love them often don't know they're doing it." Unlike people who show clear signs of a drinking problem, she added, "with gambling, nothing's going to stop you. As long as you have access to credit cards É you can just keep on gambling." (From Info Family Facts)
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