RATTAN’S RUMBLE: Both NDP and Liberals to blame for contributing to South Asians’ gambling problem

RUMBLE GAMBLING 2THE B.C. Problem Gambling Prevalence Study (Oct 2014) states: “Individuals of Southern Asian ethnic origins were more likely than other ethnic groups to experience problem gambling.”

It adds: “Among the general population, 8 % of individuals of Southern Asian descent were classified as problem gamblers, and 17.2% were classified as at-risk / problem gamblers.”


THIS fact was very conveniently left out of the B.C. Government’s official press release on Tuesday titled “New plan provides roadmap for addressing health risks of gambling.”

But these other facts were included in its “Quick Facts” part:

* In 2014, there were 125,000 problems gamblers (about 3.3% of the population). In 2008, 159,000 people were classified as problem gamblers (about 4.6% of the population).

* Over one-third (36.4%) of at-risk / problem gamblers reported that they had experienced a mental-health issue. 13.5% of non-problem gamblers reported experiencing a mental-health issue.

* Although young adults 18 to 24 years of age were the least likely age group to gamble, they were most likely to experience problem gambling relative to other age groups. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, 7.3% were classified as problem gamblers, and 18.4% were classified as at-risk/problem gamblers.

* 34.7% of at-risk / problem gamblers reported using drugs or alcohol while gambling compared to 19.2% of non-problem gamblers.

* At-risk problem gamblers were significantly more likely than non-problem gamblers to use electronic gaming machines outside of a gaming facility (6.4% vs. 2.7%).

* The percentage of respondents who self-reported participation in Internet gambling has been steadily on the rise since it was first reported in 2002 (from 2% to 4%).


THE press release said: The B.C. government is stepping up its efforts to address public-health risks of gambling with a new plan that outlines how the Province and B.C. Lottery Corporation will work to address problem gambling and improve programs and services aimed at promoting responsible gambling.

“The Plan for Public Health and Gambling, released today, contains 21 commitments focused on four main themes: problem gambling prevention among youth, encouraging responsible gambling, problem gambling treatment, and research.

“The plan takes into consideration a range of research on the of impacts of gambling on individuals and communities in B.C., including the 2014 Problem Gambling Prevalence Study, the provincial health officer’s report on gambling, online gambling research and other relevant data on gaming, health and education.”

The key elements of the plan include:

* Improving the delivery of problem gambling prevention programs for youth with an increased focus on problem solving, critical thinking and building resilience.

* Adding customized responsible gambling messaging on PlayNow.com, B.C. Lottery Corporation’s on-line gaming portal.

* Expanding the successful GameSense Advisor model to community gaming centres, in addition to what is already in place in casinos.

* Increasing co-operation between the ministries of Finance and Health to improve continuity of care for clients who face multiple, related problems such as gambling, substance abuse and mental-health issues.

* Investing in research to understand problem gambling among online players and to determine the impact of reducing high-risk features on electronic gaming machines.

* Government and BCLC will monitor the progress and achievements of the Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia. Funding of $2 million over five years has been provided for the centre.

The Plan for Public Health and Gambling was developed by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Ministries of Health and Education and the B.C. Lottery Corporation. BCLC has agreed to work closely with government to implement action items involving the corporation.


BUT what is the REALITY of this gambling situation?

Back in October 2013, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, while releasing a report that examined legalized gambling in B.C. from a public-health perspective, noted: “Gambling revenues are an INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT REVENUE SOURCE for the government of B.C.” [Capitalization mine.]

That is the REAL problem, indeed.

The expansion of gambling was started by then-NDP premier Glen Clark in the 1990s as his party desperately needed the cash to fight their deficit that resulted in the notorious fudge-it budgets of the 1990s.

When I first wrote against the NDP’s decision to allow expansion of gambling, a key South Asian minister in Clark’s cabinet at the time tried to pressure me through the publishers of The VOICE, but didn’t succeed.

All honest South Asians could clearly see the devastating effects that gambling was having on family life, but that unscrupulous South Asian minister didn’t care. All he was concerned about was sticking to power.

The Liberals under Gordon Campbell opposed this at the time but later embraced the policy with even greater zeal and greed than that of the NDP. All that Campbell wanted to do was to look after his rich buddies and rip off the middle class; so the Liberals very conveniently turned a blind eye to the criminal and social problems that the casinos caused.

In 2011, during the Vancouver downtown casino controversy, both Kendall and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) recommended that the City of Vancouver NOT permit the proposed expansion of the casino.

Dr. John Carsley of VCHA said: “I want to mention the importance of devastating effects problem gambling does have. We’re talking about severe family disrupture, mental illness, attempted suicide.”

He also noted that it is a risk that is inequitably spread through our population, noting, “The poor, people with addictions, people with mental health issues, the young, first nations, are most at risk.”

Kendall backed those views. He said they reflected the Canadian Public Health Association’s position on gambling.

Carsley told reporters that at that time B.C. was spending $1.49 per adult on gambling treatment problems, compared to the national average of more than $3.



The complete Plan for Public Health and Gaming and the 2014 Problem Gambling Prevalence Study are available at:


* B.C. Problem Gambling Prevalence Study (Oct 2014) [PDF 5.0MB]: