This week, British Columbia’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced a CA$1.4 million investment into the research of gambling-related harms and addictions. The funds will be put into the Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia, which will work on more ways to tackle the issue. It also marks the third funding term for the centre.
Over the last several years, the Canadian gambling scene has expanded drastically. First with the legalization of single-event sports wagering in August 2021, then with the opening of Ontario’s regulated market for private iGaming operators. Gambling has never been easier as individuals can do it easily on their phones, which has led to concerns about an increase in problem gambling.
Working on Prevention and Intervention
After announcing the CA$1.4 million investment to the Centre for Gambling Research, Mr. Farnworth said by understanding the underlying cause and consequences of betting addiction, the objective is to establish more efficient strategies for its prevention and intervention, while also noting that gambling issues affect individuals, their loved ones, and communities.
Director of the Centre for Gambling Research, Luke Clarke noted that the funding highlights the gravity of gaining a deeper understanding of gambling issues via research on its psychological basis. He added that the experts have the task of decreasing harm associated with gambling problems, along with bolstering evidence-based gambling policy.
Mr. Clarke has been involved in studying the connection between gambling and video games, more specifically the controversial loot box mechanic in games. It allows players to open virtual boxes containing various rewards. He explained that the ongoing programs are studying the high-risk design feature of modern gambling products, and the new forms of gambling combining betting with video games.
The centre will also rely on wagering data from the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow, which comes with a very rich data set. It will be utilized to review the behavioural markets of high-risk gambling to establish risk-detection algorithms. The platform is the only regulated online gambling website in the province, and profits go back to the local economy.
Addressing Sports Betting Changes
Meanwhile, Mr. Farnworth also said a few words on the current sports betting scenery across the country. He commented that Ontario was right to ban gambling ads which feature athletes or celebrities, amid concerns about the impact on children who are overexposed. However, these new provincial protocols will not arrive in the Heartland Province until February 28, 2024.
Shortly after the approval of the advertising changes in Ontario, BCLC’s Matt Lee said that B.C. would not follow the example as the Western province already has a policy in place forbidding it from using sports stars or other celebrities to endorse gambling. He remarked the corporation is trying to advertise in a way to supports players’ health, as it abides by its standards for marketing.
Source: Collins, Lauren “B.C. commits $1.4M to continue research into gambling addictions, policies” Vancouver Island Free Daily, December 5, 2023