The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has published a study by the Departments of Community Health Sciences and Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba. The report focuses on the gambling habits of Canadian girls and women from 15 years and older. VLTs are highlighted as the major draw for female gamblers and the report airs concerns about both their ease of availability and the speed at which players can get hooked.
The report makes the harsh recommendation to at first reduce accessibility to and ultimately remove VLTs from social meeting points, such as hotels and bars.
The advice however, is not welcomed by all and with the Manitoba government receiving revenue of $350 million from gambling in 2008, this solution has not only been criticized as draconian by some but has wider financial implications.
Furthermore, a 2009 Statistics Canada survey which found that 56% of Manitoba respondents take part in some form of gambling, many do so casually, without forming any addiction.
Other report recommendations such as setting up gambling awareness campaigns and prevention programs specifically aimed at women are much more widely welcomed.
The neighboring state of Saskatchewan isn't considering removing VLTs from bars and restaurants but is addressing the issue with a different approach. Christine Tell, the minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, explained that site operators of VLTs undertake training to help them identify problem gamblers.
Tell also highlighted the financial implications of such a move, declaring that the revenues from VLTs not only benefit the province but hotels and bars too. Rural areas in particular contain many institutions where VLTs attract customers and make a real difference to their bottom line.
The Manitoba report may not have convinced Saskatchewan to make any drastic changes but Tell did confirm that the provinces are reviewing the treatment programs they have in place for gambling addicts.