Problem Gambling Services in BC to be Expanded

Responsible GamblingBritish Colombia is a province in which gambling is a very popular leisure activity. Adults have a wide variety of legal options to choose from when it comes to gambling, including buying lottery tickets, betting on horse races as well as gambling online. But unfortunately, with so many gambling options made readily available, there are those who experience and partake in problem gambling.

Current BC Facilities

In the province of British Columbia alone, you can find 18 casinos, 5 bingo halls, 18 community halls which host legal gambling events and a wide variety of online gambling options. Of the many options, casino table games and slot machines showed the most increased growth, proving these options to be ever popular. BCLC reported that 2018’s net income from casinos and lotteries was $1.4 billion.

Problem Gambling in British Columbia

In 2018, British Colombia’s crisis line, 211 British Columbia Services Society, received a total of 3,243 gambling-related calls. Of these 3243 calls, 2373 callers were referred to professional gambling counsellors, who were able to assist with gambling addictions and problem gambling. The crisis line followed up on these calls and of the 2,347 callers who were referred to gambling counsellors, only 1,269 of these people actually received counselling. This is according to Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch's yearly report.

Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch’s Successes

The branch has used their position and influence in many positive ways, in an attempt to keep problem gambling statistics as low as possible. Early intervention services were given to a total of 1,612 people last year, and it was reported that 77% of these people showed significant improvement. Another noteworthy achievement is the fact that the branch presented 2,387 problem gambling presentations to well over 86,000 people last year. A pilot program was also planned and discussed, which aims to pick up and intervene in problem gambling in the early stages.

The branch also has a program that allows people to voluntarily ban themselves from all gambling activities- one of the very best ways to quit or take a break from gambling. Gamblers can set themselves a time period and which gambling activities they’d like to be excluded from. There were 9,500 cases last year where self-excluded players were found on gambling sites and removed accordingly. Even if a self-excluded player happens to slip through the cracks, it will be impossible for them to withdraw their jackpot.

Expected Improvements

While the Gaming Policy and Enforcement branch definitely experienced many successes over the course of the last few years, they have plans to enforce many improvements during 2019. One of the most anticipated improvements is the introduction of online chat support, where gamblers can receive 24 hour online support, whenever they may need it. The branch also aims to offer mobile text support as an additional support option.

There has always been call support services, but the branch plans to enhance these by ensuring that all calls are answered within 90 seconds, by an actual human and not by an automated response. All of these options will be absolutely free.

The branch also plans to up their security with regards to their self-inclusion, so that self-excluded players are found more easily.

Problem gambling is an issue that is not to be taken lightly. Remember that gambling should only be done for enjoyment, and not be used as a way to earn money. You should never bet more than you are willing to lose, and if you feel that you do not have control over your gambling habits, you should seek help immediately.

Last Updated: February 6, 2019

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