Industry Reports

Nova Scotia Not Doing Anything to Use the Millions Received by VLTs to Help Problem Gamblers

The anti-VLT activist Bernie Walsh has blamed the province of Nova Scotia for stashing up the money collected and aimed at helping local problem gamblers rather than using them to fund research into gambling addiction or specialized programs and services for gambling addicts.

The province of Nova Scotia receives 1% of the revenue generated by local VLTs on an annual basis over the past two decades, as well as a matching amount from casino profits and lottery sales. The amount gathered have flowed into a fund aimed at helping local problem gamblers. Reportedly, an amount of CA$6 million has been accumulated.

The fund was created back in 1998 as a replacement of the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation, to exist as a non-profit, arms-length organization. The major goal of the foundation is the purpose of receiving and distributing the amount of money contributed by VLTs to communities to make sure that possible gambling-related harm is reduced.

For the time being, the money in question is brought to the Gambling Awareness Foundation of Nova Scotia, but the funds are being controlled by three officials of the local Department of Health, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health in the province – Dr. Robert Strang – and Jeannine Lagassé, the associate deputy minister.

Funding Rises to CA$6 Million over the Last Few Years

Now, Mr. Walsh has criticised the local Government for not doing anything to invest in more proactive measures to deal with gambling addiction and its harmful effects.

Money has only flowed in but not out of the foundation over the past years. According to its annual reports, an overall amount of CA$1.5 million has been paid out to Nova Scotia community groups or for problem gambling research projects carried out from 2010 until present times. On the other hand, the successive surpluses saw a 50% increase of the amount of money gathered in the fund from CA$3 million to CA$6 million.

The Health Minister Randy Delorey has already called for the officials controlling the foundation to come up with suggestions on the way the money accumulated in the fund should be spent. Yesterday, Dolorey revealed that the individuals responsible had already been working to identify the most suitable ways how the money could be redirected to projects more efficiently.

Despite the fact that the department has issued a statement saying that significant work had been done over the last years to see the more efficient distribution of the funds accumulated, the Health Minister did not provide a timeline for the completion of the task assigned. Mr. Delorey further explained that the Government’s willingness to take advantage of gambling-generated revenue in Nova Scotia was a problem, especially considering the fact that the Government was not willing to take more proactive measures which could end up cutting the “easy money” brought by gambling services.