The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) has commissioned two new reports questioning a potential link between legalising online gambling and an increase in problem gambling.
The two reports reached contrasting opinions on whether online gambling leads to a higher degree of unhealthy gambling behaviour, according to CBC News.
The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), the author of the first report, noted that while the causal link between online gambling and gambling problems is not clearly established, it remains wary of the impacts of online gambling on at-risk gamblers.
Regulators in Canada are continuing to collect evidence on whether or not certain parts of the gambling experience pose a danger to consumers and are seeking to implement necessary measures to stop this process.
The ALC’s motivation behind these reports has been to help develop its icasino suite. It has been looking into ways to expand online gambling for the past decade. And with many others now following the same path, calls to legalise igaming have become more prominent, and some have succeeded such as in New Brunswick.
According to the final evidence in the report obtained by CBC, there is a lack of solid evidence backing the claim that online gambling may be related to a higher frequency of problem gambling behaviour, with the report basing its findings on provinces in Canada where such forms are allowed.
However, one of the reports by Richard Wood argued that at-risk players may suffer greatly from online gambling. The RGC did outline possible risk factors, saying that regulators should be aware of socially isolated individuals who could make bad decisions, such as spending more on gambling.
The RGC’s report also examined the use of credit cards and the risk they pose in online gambling. In leading gambling jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and Australia, credit cards can’t be used for gambling.
It argued that pre-existing mental health issues may be further intensified by gambling, but it didn’t recognise that $100m per year is already being spent by Atlantic Canadians on offshore gambling websites which are allowed due to the country’s gambling laws.
ALC President and interim CEO Patrick Daigle agreed with the argument, saying: “Our perspective on this is that the most irresponsible thing to do is nothing while these offshore illegal operators are taking money from Atlantic Canadians.”
The ALC has already implemented tools to reduce online gambling risks to vulnerable consumers, such as training up its staff on responsible gambling as well as displaying the self-exclusion option in a visible place on its website home page. Players can also set specific spending limits.
However, the RGC report urges companies to produce a “harm minimisations strategy” and see to its successful implementation.
There has been some back and forth on the topic of promotional elements and if it’s the right and socially responsible move to use them. There have been anti-gambling calls from political figures too such as Prince Edward Islands’ Green Party leader, Peter Bevan–Baker.
Lawmakers are being urged to find a way to protect customers as the single event sports betting bill is being discussed and with the legalisation of sports gambling and possibly igaming in Canada not far away.