Tag Archives: gambling expansion

The Kendall Report: gambling addiction in BC has doubled in 5 years

Photo via CBC
Photo via CBC

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CBC: “The number of severely-addicted gamblers in British Columbia has more than doubled while the provincial government has taken in billions in gaming revenue, according to a new report from the Provincial Health Officer.

The concerning figures have prompted B.C. medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall to call for more government investment in gambling prevention and treatment programs.

The report, released Wednesday, analyzed data collected between 2002 and 2007. It showed that even though gambling activities have generally declined, the number of people with a severe gambling problem has risen from 13,000 to 31,000.”

The Kendall Report requires an immediate response from provincial and municipal governments. The report was published over six weeks ago, and yet there has been no reaction from the BC government or the City of Vancouver. Meanwhile, we are heading for a development permit hearing on December 17 for the massive casino building – at its original massive size, ripe for future expansion – in downtown Vancouver adjoining BC Place Stadium. One of the largest demographics for rising gambling addiction is young males. Why has there been no reaction to the Kendall Report?

Richard Lipsey, Economist, Order of Canada, opposes the casino

13 years ago, internationally renowned economist Richard Lipsey wrote a paper on gambling expansion with Lennart Henriksson, entitled Should Provinces Expand Gambling. As he is traveling on a schedule too tight to permit him to write on this topic today, Dr. Lipsey invited us to excerpt his paper in ways that are helpful to today’s debate. What follows could have been written yesterday:

By Richard Lipsey, PhD, Professor Emeritus, SFU, Order of Canada


We believe it is time for governments to adopt a more sober set of expectation about what new gambling ventures can achieve.

[T]here has been little clear thinking on the question of whether the benefits of expansion outweigh the costs. … Unfortunately, most cost benefit studies to date have been funded by groups with a vested interest in expansion, such as governments or would-be casino developers. In the typical study, the benefits of expansion are overstated, often by ignoring the diversion effect. In other cases, the social costs of expansion are understated or ignored altogether.

To be sure, the tax content of new gambling expenditures for the government is substantial. But for the economy as a whole, we conclude that while some new revenues and jobs are created, these are largely offset by the loss of jobs and revenue in other sectors.

The downside risks of gambling are significant, When the social costs are deducted, the incremental revenues may turn out to be negative. For the BC government, even a tiny increase in healthcare, social services or law enforcement costs would easily wipe out any incremental gain. Sadly, the government continues to overlook the need for objective and realistic analysis.

[T]he benefits from new gambling are limited, and easily overwhelmed by large downside risks.

On Employment:

It is easy to point to jobs created in gambling because they are localized and visible; it is difficult to track the jobs destroyed by the diversion of expenditures from other lines of expenditure because they are diffused. … Only careful studies of overall employment trends, not just those in gambling, have any chance of uncovering the true full effect –and, by and large, such studies find little effect.

[T]the losses from gambling are partly moneys transferred from expenditures that the losers would have otherwise made. For the same reason, most of the jobs created in gambling only substitute one for one (at best) for the jobs destroyed when expenditure switches from other activities. Although any new job is to be welcomed, these are not the sort of increments that justify accepting significant social costs to obtain.

On Problem Gambling and Crime:

Problem gamblers are an easy target for those in organized crime. They can be lent money which they lose, and then forced into such illegal activities as couriering drugs. The existence of a supply of problem gamblers may actually attract the criminals who would exploit them. And, when the consequences come home to roost, suicide may increasingly appear to be an easy out.

On Political Integrity:

A degree of corruption is a very likely product of expanded gambling. To be sure, some jurisdictions seek diligently to prevent corruption in the regulatory process through mechanisms such as conflict of interest rules, the appointment of persons who are above suspicion, or requirements for open procedures. But the effectiveness of these practices is limited. The licenses that a gaming commission awards are extremely valuable, and decisions it makes governing day-to-day operation of gaming facilities will often involve large amounts of cash. Suspicion of corruption and its occasional appearance are inherent in the process.

On Public Debate:

There has been a “bandwagon” atmosphere around gambling in Canada, and an unfortunate stifling of healthy public debate.

On Policy:

All in all, the best gambles are those in which one risks a relatively small sum in the hopes of winning a relatively large sum. The bet the public is being asked to make on extended gambling violates that basic principle. They risk a large economic and social loss that is uncertain and open-ended. No one knows how big it may be. All in all, this is neither an efficient nor effective way of funding public policy goals.

Richard Lipsey, PhD, Professor Emeritus, SFU, Order of Canada

Parents shouldn’t blow college fund at casino

“If the mega casino were to be built, my parents would probably go there almost every week. Perhaps they could spend their money on my university tuition; it’s just a thought.”

Parents shouldn’t blow college fund at casino
Letter to the editor, Vancouver Courier

MARCH 25, 2011

To the editor:

Re: “12th and Cambie,” March 18.

I strongly disagree with the idea of building a mega casino in Vancouver. Casinos have a way of sucking the money out of everyone who goes there. The casino itself would make money, but for the family members of the customers, it is a disaster waiting to happen. As a Grade 12 student determined to go to university, I’d like my parents to spend their money on a more meaningful cause. Perhaps they could spend their money on my university tuition; it’s just a thought. If the mega casino were to be built, my parents would probably go there almost every week.

I would rather not see them constantly lose money since they usually do every time they step foot inside a casino. It’s not a pretty sight.

Jennifer Lui,


© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

How Vancouverites feel about gambling expansion: the real numbers

Graphic above is from the Justason report (see below)

67% of Vancouverites believe casino expansion will bring significant social problems.

Once again, consistent with all other polls of the Vancouver public, the Ipsos poll released March 24 shows a clear and substantial majority of decided respondents OPPOSE the expansion of Edgewater Casino. Although the margin of error was large and the sample size was very small at 250 Vancouver residents, this is the third poll since February demonstrating a clear lead by expansion opponents over supporters. No poll of Vancouver residents has ever shown public support for the casino expansion, and no poll has shown support within 10 percentage points of opposition.

Below is a summary of the polling data we are aware of. Please note that the figures below reflect DECIDED respondents.  We have allocated undecideds proportionately, so the numbers are different from what you will see on the survey results themselves:

Robbins Sce Research March 14, 2011:
Oppose casino expansion:  58.5%
Support expansion:  41.5%
= 17% gap  in our favour
Margin of error: 4.37% 19 times out of 20 @ 95% confidence
Sample size 503 Vancouver registered voters who voted in the last election.
Phone poll: Vancouver City poll – Casino, Legal Aid, BC Place Roof, Citizens Initiative and Recall, Party popularity 

Justason Market Intelligence  February, 2011
Oppose expansion: 62.5%
Support expansion:  37.5%
= 25% gap in our favour
Margin of error 4.9% 19 times out of 20
Sample size of 662 Vancouver residents.
See the phone and online poll (note: pdf) 

Blue Thorn Research and Analysis Group Report, commissioned by the Province of British Columbia  July, 2007
Here is a 196 page study commissioned by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch from 2007, reviewing impact and social acceptance of gambling and casinos in 4 metro Vancouver municipalities, including Vancouver:    http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/gaming/reports/docs/rpt-rg-impact-study-final.pdf (pdf)
Harm of gambling outweighs benefit:   63.9%
Edgewater is beneficial to community:  15.1%
Page 7 of the report (Executive Summary), or on the pdf p. 11/196:   Sample size was 1000, and INCLUDED THE OPTION OF CANTONESE, MANDARIN, OR PUNJABI RESPONSES.  This survey was weighted to balance for age, gender, and ethnicity. 

From the Executive Summary:

Vancouver has the most negative attitude toward gambling of the four communities. Their negative general attitude toward gambling has significantly increased. In 2004, 56.6% of people believed the harm of gambling outweighed benefits, increasing to 57.4% in 2005, and 63.9% in 2006. The community’s negative attitude toward the Edgewater Casino also became significantly worse. In 2004 only 26.0% believed it was likely to be somewhat or very beneficial to the community. This decreased to 24.4% in 2005 and only 15.1% in 2006.

When a small Richmond, B.C. casino expanded to become River Rock…

Here’s what happened when Richmond, B.C.’s small Bridgeport Casino expanded to become the River Rock Casino. Vancouver Sun, October 25, 2007. Also see “Richmond sees rash of casino-related crime” on canada.com.

Casino a crime magnet: RCMP

The opening of River Rock Casino in Richmond has led to a quadrupling of casino-related crime and allowed new organized crime groups to gain a foothold in the city, according to an internal RCMP report obtained by The Sun:

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