Money pours into VLTS while government abandons addicts
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) says government has apparently forgotten its promise to help people addicted to gambling on Video Lottery Terminals. The machines turn huge profits for both bar owners and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, which is owned by the governments of the four Atlantic provinces.
“Two years ago government committed to working on a new five-year VLT strategy. Last year the Finance minister stated they were looking at policies of other provinces with regard to VLTs,” Michael said in the House of Assembly today.
“I ask the Premier, will we see this new strategy this year?”
Michael notes that addictions treatment actually seems to have taken a step backward recently. “Last month Eastern Health eliminated a position of gambling addictions counsellor, creating less access to specialized treatment,” she said.
“What happened to government’s commitment to treating persons with gambling addictions?
“The June 2009 gambling prevalence study shows there were close to 3,000 problem VLT gamblers in this province. I ask the Premier, can he tell us what percentage of the estimated $80 million annual VLT government revenue is made off the backs of addicted people?”
The NDP Leader and Finance critic also restated her view that government should appoint an official from the health department to the ALC to ensure the welfare of people comes before VLT profits.