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Internet gambling is also a public health issue: CAMH

Toronto, August 10, 2010 - Any expansion of gambling in Ontario must be done thoughtfully and carefully, balancing the significant social and public health impacts with the benefits, according to one of the province’s foremost institutes of problem gambling expertise.
“Gambling is a fact of life in our society. That being said, we are concerned that the ease of online access and the sanction of a government-run enterprise through the OLG may attract significant numbers of new people to gambling,” says Robert Murray, manager at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)’s Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario.
CAMH welcomes the opportunity to consult with the OLG along with other parts of Ontario’s gambling treatment and research sector on appropriate safeguards.
But with research indicating that problem gambling is three to four times higher among Canadian Internet gamblers than it is among other gamblers, CAMH’s Problem Gambling Institute has a number of key concerns including:
  • Ensuring that this initiative will not expand gambling access for young people  (CAMH’s recent OSDUHS release reported that approximately 3% of Ontario students reported problem gambling symptoms, with males more likely to be affected than females)
  • Ensuring ‘gold standard’ consumer protection measures as employed in other jurisdictions, such as player tracking technology and tools for gamblers to set limits on their losses
  • Thorough evaluation of expected impact on Ontario’s addiction treatment system
  • Extending self-exclusion measures to Internet gambling
  • Ensuring access to responsible gambling information, self-assessment, treatment and other supports
“Every day at CAMH we see the harmful consequences of gambling to people, families and communities,” Robert says. “We believe that the public interest is served by learning from other jurisdictions and research evidence to ensure that the harmful social and health-related problems of all gambling are minimized.”
For more information or to arrange interview, contact Kirk LeMessurier, CAMH Public Affairs at (416) 595-6015 or email: kirk_lemessurier@camh.net         
Follow CAMH media updates on twitter: http://twitter.com/CamhMediaUpdate
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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. (www.camh.net
CAMH’s Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario brings treatment professionals and leading researchers together with experts in communicating and sharing knowledge. (www.problemgambling.ca)
CAMH Switchboard 416-535-8501
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