Why Nova Scotia Won’t Ban Problem Gamblers from Casinos

By | November 2, 2022


The Nova Scotia government won’t ban problem gamblers from going to the province’s casinos. The decision was announced on Monday, following an online survey in which the government asked Nova Scotians if it should ban people who don’t want to gamble from casinos and slot facilities. The government says 86 per cent of the 3,000 people who responded said no; 15 per cent said yes and one per cent didn’t know or refused to answer.

However, Health Minister Leo Glavine also said that, if a problem gambler has gambling problems, the matter should be dealt with through the justice system or addiction services.

A brief history of gambling in Canada

Gambling has been a part of Canadian culture for centuries, with many Canadians taking part in different forms of gambling including lotteries and casinos. However, as gambling becomes more accessible, an increasing number of Canadians are developing gambling problems. This led to the introduction of Bill C-290, which proposed stricter regulations on the industry to protect problem gamblers. The bill was passed unanimously by Parliament but was never fully implemented due to a lack of funding.

Gambling in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has long been known as the center of gambling in Canada and is home to over 1,000 slot machines. A recent push from anti-gambling groups to ban problem gamblers from entering casinos was dismissed by Premier Stephen McNeil as they believe it would be a violation of their freedom. In place of this, they have created a voluntary exclusion program that would allow people who are struggling with gambling addiction to voluntarily exclude themselves from casinos. Many online casinos that legally operate in Nova Scotia also welcome any one willing to bet.

Gambling addiction facts

Problem gambling is a serious and persistent public health problem. About 1-3% of the population has a gambling addiction, which means there are about 250,000 people in Canada who need help. It’s estimated that about 10% of the population gambles at any one time, but this doesn’t mean they’re all addicted to it.

Gambling disorder is considered an impulse control disorder like other impulse control disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and pathological gambling. Gambling disorder can be difficult to diagnose because gamblers may not be aware they have a problem until their life is impacted negatively by their behavior.

In general, provinces regulate casinos, but municipalities can create bylaws that prohibit or restrict casino development on their territory.

The connection between problem gamblers and casinos

Problem gamblers can be defined as people who spend an excessive amount of money on gambling or individuals who have trouble controlling their gambling behavior. There are many different factors that contribute to the development of a problem gambler, but it is often believed that spending time in a casino increases the risk for developing these behaviors.

Casinos are designed to make gambling more enticing by providing a variety of options and rewarding players with freebies. The layout of casinos contributes to this too – they are laid out so that slot machines and table games surround the player, which makes it difficult for them to leave without passing by even more gambling opportunities. The tendency of casinos to offer customers easy access to everything they want at any hour also encourages longer play sessions and worsens gambling addiction.

How can we solve this problem?

Nova Scotia should consider introducing a self-exclusion program that would allow people to voluntarily ban themselves from casinos. This would make sense because casinos are the only place problem gamblers can legally gamble. They also offer other forms of entertainment such as live music, movies, and restaurants.

Self-exclusion programs have proven effective in other countries with gambling addiction issues, so this could be a good way to stop problem gambling while allowing those who don’t have an issue to enjoy themselves.

Problem gamblers and online casino

Problem gamblers are no different than alcoholics or drug addicts, but the stigma around gambling addiction is much less. These people need help and support just like any other addict would. Banning them from casinos doesn’t mean they won’t continue to gamble; it just means they will do it in private and without help.

The government needs to focus on prevention and rehabilitation for this issue, not punishment. The focus should be on those who suffer from a gambling addiction rather than those who don’t. We know there’s going to be more at-risk populations if we don’t offer some sort of service, said Smith. If you’re doing harm reduction, then let’s look at those folks first.

In summary

Nova Scotia’s gambling regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Authority of Nova Scotia (AGANS), has said that it will not ban problem gamblers from casinos. The decision comes after a recent report by the provincial government found that an estimated 11% of casino patrons are problem gamblers, up from 7% five years ago.

There is no evidence that banning these people from casinos would reduce their gaming activity.  Rather than banning them, AGANS has chosen to implement a self-exclusion program where problem gamblers can voluntarily sign themselves out.

A self-exclusion program has been in place at the Casino Nova Scotia since 2006.

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