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Normalization of sports gambling harmful to mental health, CPA says

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Joordens added surveys have shown that roughly two-thirds of Canadians are involved in gambling, with only about two to four per cent of those people admitting to having a problem.

“It makes us think that the real problem is probably larger. But we also know that one of the things that makes gambling unique is for every person who has a real gambling issue, roughly about seven to 10 other people are affected by that…typically family members,” Joordens said.

“So when you do a little bit of math that way, you start to realize this is impacting hundreds of thousands of Canadians, putting them in the middle of a mental health issue at a time when we don’t really have capacity in the system to be adding mental health crisis on top of an existing mental health crisis.”

Currently, there is only one legal sports gambling option in Saskatchewan, PlayNow Saskatchewan, which is regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA).

“In addition to being a responsible marketer, PlayNow.com has responsible gambling features built into its platform, and those include mandatory age identity and location verification,” said Brian Miller, a spokesperson for Lotteries and Gaming Saskatchewan. “So for LGS, we are concerned about the impact of illegal gaming operators in Saskatchewan, as many of these illegal operators do not market responsibly.”

“So that’s one of the things I believe the Senate bill is hoping to address, are some of these other operators who don’t have the responsible gambling features or the responsible marketing.”

Miller said sports betting only accounts for less than 10 per cent of all of PlayNow Saskatchewan’s revenue, but that it is growing slowly over time. All of the money gets reinvested back into the province.

Meanwhile, Joordens said he’s still learning about how the political process works for Bill S-269, which is a member’s bill.

“This one has been read a couple of times, so that means people are aware of it, it’s out there, people can read it,” Joordens said. “And eventually…and it’s very hazy in what that means…but probably months from now, there will be some sort of formal debate.”

“And the debate will be how much and to what extent to regulate the marketing of sports gambling and I think gambling in general.”

nolan.kowal@pattisonmedia.com

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