Alberta has seen great prosperity for Canadians in many industries in the last decade and now a surge in Alberta's gambling revenue has some reconsidering the mix of legal betting options.
A near 5% jump in the takings from the legal wagering options in the province has industry experts speaking up about the need for the Alberta government to reconsider the plans left in place for a future online gambling site. Lottery and video slot machines collected approximately $25 billion through the last year which, after expenses, left about $1.2 billion to be spent on improving the infrastructure of Canada's oil capital.
Research into the demographics of people who are filling the provincial coffers shows that about 40% of the income comes from 3 to 4% of bettors who are labelled as 'problem gamblers'. These numbers come from Garry Smith, a University of Alberta professor emeritus who has been studying these statistics. This has opposition speaking out against the addition of online gambling sites which could increase provincial gains by $150 million yearly.
While more income means that more can be given to improve infrastructure, it also means adding temptation and creating easier access for those who need help to break addictive habits. While the internet creates an easy way for casual players to get their fill, it also opens and entirely new door to those who take their gaming to the extreme.
Smith mentions how the gambling industry as a whole contributes to the addictive nature of their games and the harm it can do, "there is a science to getting people to keep on going even though they are losing..." He continues, "...now the AGLC seems to want to introduce a product that will let people sit at home in the pyjamas all day and gamble."
As for the currently ruling party, the NDP, and their next move for or against committing to an online service, there should be outreach to the eight provinces who already run their own. These have been doing well but also contribute a significant amount of money to make assistance programs for problem gamblers readily available through prominent placement on their sites.
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