Texas Has A Financial Problem Too ...
Yet They're Planning to Create Greater Financial
& Social Problems by Expanding Gambling
Originally Posted: Jan 6, 2005
There are two stories on this page. First one - Canada has a gambling problem.
Then I've written an editorial - Editiorial by (below Canada story)
Canada has a gambling problem
By ANDRÉ PICARD
It is a costly fantasy.
Revenues from government-run gambling operations exceeded $11.8-billion in 2003. That is a four-fold increase in just a decade. (And, to put that number in perspective, consider that the goods and services tax, the dreaded GST, brings in about $29-billion a year.)
The health and social costs of gambling -- and problem gambling in particular -- are a lot more difficult to quantify. But they include increased costs for policing, courts, prisons, medical care, social assistance and economic losses to individuals and businesses.
The havoc wreaked on communities and the undermining of our redistributive taxation system -- one of the single greatest benefits to the health of Canadians -- is rarely discussed.
The devastation, in terms of lives lost and families destroyed, is incalculable. Where there is gambling, there is increased violence, including higher rates of child abuse and domestic violence.
By some estimates, between 200 and 400 suicides in Canada are directly related to pathological gambling and the hopelessness it engenders. The number of attempted suicides related to gambling is likely five times higher.
Gambling is viewed in many ways in this country. Many see it as a harmless bit of fun, a way to indulge in hours of reverie for the cost of a $2 lottery ticket, or to live out the vida loca for a few hours by dressing up and blowing a few bills at the casino.
Governments see it as a cash cow, a way to extract billions of tax dollars from Canadians with nary a peep of protest. (Which may explain why gambling is often referred to as a "tax on the stupid.")
Politicians also like to pretend that gambling, and the country's casinos in particular, are a big tourist draw and an economic bonanza. This, of course, is bunk. The high rollers don't forsake Las Vegas and Atlantic City for Regina and Hull.
More than 90 per cent of casino patrons are locals, and a disproportionate number of them have modest incomes. This problem is even more pronounced with VLTs, which are more insidious and accessible than casinos. Dubbed "electronic crack cocaine," VLTs are often the lot of the desperate.
A study done in Quebec found that 7.8 per cent of the population gamble on VLTs. Of that number, about 8 per cent are pathological gamblers, and they account for 59 per cent of all VLT revenues -- which, along with non-casino slots, account for almost half of all gambling revenues.
The vast majority of the 19 million Canadians who gamble do so responsibly -- if not rationally. But the compulsive, addicted gamblers -- somewhere between 4 and 8 per cent of the total -- are a significant social problem.
Without a doubt, gambling is a health issue -- from increasing the number of suicides to escalating domestic violence -- and there is a need for public-health officials to treat it as such.
Health professionals, when assessing the health of a patient, need to ask about gambling, just as they ask about smoking and drinking. Strategies need to be developed for preventing and treating problem gamblers, of which there may be as many as 1.2 million in Canada.
Governments also have to put an end to their hypocrisy.
While governments have an unhealthy addiction to so-called sin taxes -- the levies on alcohol and tobacco are big revenue generators -- at least there are regulations and programs in place to limit some of the damage.
But gambling stands apart. While the advertising of tobacco and alcohol is severely restricted in Canada, the state invests heavily in the advertising of lotteries and casinos, ads that glamorize gambling in a shameful manner. (While beer companies have to tell you to drink responsibly, lottery corporations don't bother telling you the astronomical odds against winning -- up to one in 14 billion for some Lotto 6/49 jackpots.)
Worse yet, there has been little public debate about gambling, and its place in Canada.
In 1974, the country's first legal lottery began, in a bid to raise money for the 1976 Olympics. Lotteries proliferated. In 1980, the first year-round "charity" casino opened in Calgary, and in 1989, the first commercial casino opened in Winnipeg. Now there are 76. There are about 40,000 VLTs around the country, roughly the same number as there are lottery ticket outlets.
Where will it all end? And what purpose is actually being served by this proliferation?
These are important issues that need an airing. The risks and benefits of gambling need to be examined and understood.
There is a growing chorus of calls for a royal commission -- by the Gambling Watch Network, Citizen Voice for Gambling Integrity, and most recently the Canada Safety Council. The government should heed that call. Because, regardless of one's stand on state-sponsored gambling, no one is served by having politicians and policy-makers bury their heads in the sand on an important issue of public health and social policy.
I realize that those of you who visit my web site are for the most part, "intelligent gamblers," and like to play the games of chance and do so "responsibly." So do I and so am I. However, if ya'll could just sit in my shoes for 3 days, you would oppose gambling, especially the lotteries, with all your heart and soul. You'd be able to see the real damage it does to the people and then you'd be able to see how our governments are taking advantage of ALL of us who like to gamble.
I'm not going to go into all of the things that I could tell you - most of it is rather obvious especially if you read my web site. But there are issues like the fairness of the games - the private sector wouldn't be allowed to sell such products - but the government can.
The states/government misrepresents the odds on the scratch tickets, they have devious manners in which they distribute the scratch tickets, they are planning to convert over to computerized drawings and the drawings will NOT be random. They're doing this so they can see to it that no one wins so the pots will climb to entice spending.
There has been no consideration given or studies done to the damages done to those who have actually won where their lives were actually destroyed and ended up broke and with no friends. People who have never had money have no idea how to handle money - so when they win, they think they are "millionaires" when in reality, they are not. The lotteries plant this idea in the winners minds when they do those PHONY ceremonial checks. When the winners realize they don't really have as much money as they thought they did, it's generally too late. A simple study of jackpot winners would show income levels which would be indicative of the education levels of the players.
The lotteries don't tell you how much of the winners winnings are paid in taxes. Boy, the goverment comes out smelling like a rose financially over the so-called "millions won" by the "People."
Texas no longer has a Security force which is horrible for many reasons. They cut the security staff back BIG time yet based on the original TLC startup guidelines, security would have been the very last department to down size yet it was the first. You can just imagine why they cut "really" cut security.
The phone calls that both the TLC and I take from the public is clearly indicative of the intelligence of the majority of the players which accounts for 90% of the revenues collected - then - our tax dollars pays for the damages done.
The folks who make these phone calls probably throw away more winning tickets than they collect which is one of the reasons the unclaimed prize fund is so huge. They don't know what pays what and can't even see all the places to scratch off on the tickets. Do you have any idea how many winning scratch tickets & lotto tickets I've found laying around in the stores that I collected on?
The money wasted by the lotteries is unbelievable. It just makes me sick.
Texas cheated lotto winners and have come up with every excuse they can think of to "justify" it. However, the bottom line is that Lotto Texas was a "pari-mutuel" game which means that players won a percentage of sales. Period. Some winners didn't receive all that they were entitled to when they collected their winnings. We're still waiting to see if the TLC is going to correct their "mistake" or if it's going to take a law suit with a jury of 12 citizens to resolve this issue.
Please, trust me, these are just a FEW of the reasons we must all OPPOSE expanded gambling in Texas to protect us from our government who is taking advantage of ALL OF US.
The Canada story above tells it all. Pay attention and help protect those who can't protect themselves by telling our state leaders NO to expanded gambling in Texas.
Read story about a Texas $31 million winner
More Sad but True Winners Stories. Click here.
Sad but True Winners Stories. Click here.
One Winner - One Loser - What a story.
Store Owners and Employees Admit Stealing