8 Jun

Canadian Gamblers Better Protected in Quebec

Evidence surfacing that Quebec’s voluntary self-exclusion better promotes healthy gambling in Canada.

Quebec's Self-Exclusion Promoting Better Healthy Gambling in Canada

The promotion of healthier gambling habits is a major issue among government regulatory bodies all over the world. Here in Canada, self-exclusion programs are becoming more and more prevalent among the nation’s provinces. Based on recent evidence, however, it would seem that some are more effective than others.

Quebec, for example, has years worth of statistical data regarding the impact of its problem gambling efforts. Canada other two major gaming provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, also promote self-exclusion programs, but their effectiveness has been questionable, to put it mildly.

Quebec’s Promotes Healthy Gambling in Canada

For decades, Loto-Quebec has been the regulator of all gaming activities in Quebec. For many of those years, the regulator has provided a self-exclusion program wherein individuals who have – or fear they may be susceptible to the development of – a gambling problem can voluntarily exclude themselves from wagering activities in any of the province’s casinos and gaming halls.

They call it ‘A Game Should Remain a Game‘, and any adult citizen of Quebec can sign up for it. According to recent reports from the gaming regulator, a lot more are doing so these days. Statistics show a steady progression, and an overall 75% spike in voluntary self-exclusions over the last 7 years.

In the 2012-13 fiscal year, 3,037 Quebecois registered themselves for the program. That figure grew to 5,313 in the 2018-19 fiscal year, up from 5,111 and 4,463 respectively in the two years prior.

It’s plain enough to see that the significant increase isn’t just due to a greater awareness of the program’s existence, but greater convenience. The launch of Espacejeux.com, Loto-Quebec’s multi-channel online gambling website, gives adults instant access to a vast selection of wagering options from the comfort of home. In the same token, players can sign up for self-exclusion just as easily over the web, choosing to keep themselves out of the online casino only, or both online and land-based casinos, for anywhere from 3 months to 5 years.

Are Canadian Gamblers Better Protected in Quebec?

Of the three big gaming provinces, B.C. And Ontario seem to be having the hardest time upholding their end of the voluntary self-exclusion bargain.

In December 2018, an admitted problem gambler, Nik Galego, published a shocking video in which he – a self-excluded gambler in B.C. – had no trouble walking into a local casino. He was never asked to show ID. He was never approached by any attendants. Galego simply walked in, passing by three insouciant security guards at the entrance, sat down at a slot machine, and began playing. He did it, risking a fine of $5,000 if caught, to prove a point – that the system is beyond flawed, because no ones cares to fix it.

A similar situation occurred in Ontario last year. Gambling addict Joe Frieri wagered away more than $300,000 before registering himself for self-exclusion. He thought if he couldn’t control himself, then someone else would. Instead, he was able to enter at least 10 different casinos all over the Ontario.

Loto-Quebec attributes its unequivocal success to regular scans of their clientele and a faculty trained in recognizing and handling at-risk behavioral patterns. Still, they say it’s not enough to promote healthy gambling in Canada. The regulator is hoping to re-instate funding for facial recognition technology.

Ontario has been using facial recognition – albeit without evident success – for some time. Quebec found the previous platform raised far too many false positive flags, but believes the technology is finally advanced enough to be effective.

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