Industry Reports

BC Gambling Addict Blames Local Government for Lack of Action Aimed at Protecting Problem Gamblers

A gambling addict blamed the Government of British Columbia for lacking the will to put some limits on the local gambling industry worth billions of dollars. Lora Bertuccio, who apart from problem gambling suffers from severe anxiety and bipolar disorder, said that for the time being, the Provincial Government has been failing to help addicted gamblers minimize their spending to fuel gambling addictions.

The 47-year-old woman explained that she has lost thousands of dollars while gambling at local casinos and she could not help herself from putting money in the slot machines.

According to estimates, Canadian people spent approximately CA$17.3 billion on forms of gambling run by the BC Government in 2017. However, the authorities redirected only a small portion of the money back into programs aimed at helping local gambling addicts.

Ms. Bertuccio called for casino loyalty cards provided to players need to allow them only use slot machines for a limited time and within certain spending limits. Previously, the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) said it would introduce the so-called “pre-commitment card” program by 2015 but unfortunately, limited testing of the program has started only recently. Ms. Bertuccio shared her disappointment with the competent authorities’ lack of action and said that they “never do anything” to truly help people like her.

The Attorney General of British Columbia – David Eby – who currently oversees the operation of the BC Lottery Corporation said in an interview with Go Public that Ms. Bertuccio is actually right that the local Government should do more in order to protect problem gamblers. He confirmed there were many examples of people suffering from gambling addictions who have stolen money from employees and family members, with some of them actually committing suicide.

Governments Do Not Want to Lose Gambling Revenue

Currently, the American Psychiatric Association defines gambling disorders as behavioral disorders which make people suffer serious problems or distress due to repeated and compulsive gambling.

As revealed by Ms. Bertuccio, her bipolar disorder only makes things worse, as it sometimes makes her go into a manic state and literally lose track of whatever she is doing, which could be particularly dangerous when it comes to gambling at slot machines. The 47-year-old women explained that she falls into a trance-like state and often loses track of time and space.

According to her, a medication adjustment in the spring made her go into manic state and spend an amount of almost CA$20,000, which was the money she had won in a settlement with her employer. Currently, she lives on disability welfare, as she is suffering a bipolar disorder and a back injury.

Robert Williams, an Alberta Gambling Research Institute researcher who also works as a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Lethbridge, said that provincial governments in Canada seem not to be willing to unveil special programs aimed at tackling problem gambling. Mr. Williams who is one of the country’s leading experts in gambling and addiction shared that the provinces’ authorities simply do not want to put at stake the massive revenue they get from gambling.