Five recommendations are made to strengthen health and social policy regarding gambling.
Balance the public interest: In 1985 provinces were given exclusive control over gambling. All provinces now own a variety of gambling products, receive significant revenue from gambling and fulfill several roles related to gambling, including regulation of the industry and provision of services to those with gambling problems. Policy-makers at all levels of government should regularly monitor and assess the public owner-operator models now in place, to ensure that there is a responsible balance between encouraging gambling as entertainment and protecting the public from gambling-related harm.
Monitor gambling advertising: Public guardians and government regulatory bodies should scrutinize the scope of gambling advertising and, in particular, the messages to youth, lower socioeconomic groups and vulnerable populations. Health officials should advocate in this area and, where possible, ensure that owners and operators prominently display the odds of winning and losing for each of their gambling activities.
Assess the impact on quality of life: Policy analysts should assess the impact of the expansion of gambling on the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities. Quality of life encompasses the interplay among social, health, economic and environmental conditions. To better inform policy, the government should fund a credible scientific body to develop a standard methodology to estimate the health, social and economic costs and benefits of gambling and related problems. Key stakeholders should be involved in building consensus, and public health experts should be represented in this activity.
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