Problem Gamblers get help from GameSense at Alberta Casinos

Alberta is preparing to bring out a program that will be in casinos to help people who place bets on games of chance for them to gamble more responsibly.

This program is called GameSense, it was developed in British Columbia and is already being used in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The aim of the program is to teach people the to understand the difference between gams of chance and skill-based games, what the odds are of winning and to enjoy gambling for fun and not for money.

The Gaming and Liquor Commission in Alberta says that GameSense will be available initially at 24 casinos and on three horse racetracks that also be on offer on gambling machines.

The idea behind this is to engage players and encourage them to seek information with regards to responsible gambling and to steer away from high-risk behaviours or potential problem gambling behaviors, said Tatjana Laskovic, who is a commission spokeswoman.

The Alberta government, this year, expects to bring in over $1.9 billion from VLT’s, casino gaming terminals, and electronic bingo machines.

The British Columbia Lottery Corp. (BCLC) first introduced GameSense to casinos during 2009 and has since then expanded the program so that it includes all forms of legal wagering, this includes online gaming.

BCLC's director of social responsibility, Kahlil Philander, says that GameSense is a holistic program that reduces gambling-related harm.

GameSense is Enormously successful

Mr Philander said that GameSense has been enormously successful, and that the most recent gambling study that was carried out in 2014, the numbers of gamblers with a problem shrank in the province. He continued that the program was designed to present the information in a friendly manner.

British Columbia casinos have GameSense advisers available on hand to answer player’s questions, and information is available at retails outlets that have lottery and also online.

He said that the advisers chat with approximately 4,500 people monthly.

The GameSense approach path is a more amenable than has been used in the past, he said, and they wanted alleviate any stigma that might be attached to getting information that could help.

Some of the messaging includes easy to understand statements, such as, "Keeping it fun means playing within your means" and "Wondering if you can win back losses by playing more? — Chances are the more you play, the more money you will lose."

Mr. Philander said B C gave this program to Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments at no charge and it is also being used in Massachusetts.

Low-key approach

Paul Smith, who helped to develop the GameSense for the BCLC, said that the program was all about being effectively connected to people in a low-key way.

It is hoped and expected that the more people understand about gambling, their decisions why they gamble and how to be more responsible, the less likely are they to develop a problem.

Laskovic says that GameSense will eventually expand to other forms of gambling in Alberta, that includes VLT locations, and lottery ticket kiosks.

Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has been considering proposals to get into online gaming and ig the government decides on proceeding then GameSense could be extended to accommodate that form of gambling.