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March 30, 2010

Gambling Expansion

"And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots."
Matthew 27:35

Gambling has a history that goes back thousands of years. The policy debate in BC should focus on whether the provincial government should actively encourage BC families to spend more on gambling, not on whether gambling is good or bad. Problems with gambling are well documented, just ask Gordon Campbell or Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger.

BCLC is the government agency that "that conducts, manages and operates lottery, casino, Chances and community gaming and eGaming in BC." The government website continues to refer to it as the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, the BCLC's website and its service plan just use the initials, emphasizing that it operates far more than lotteries.

Premier craps outBCLC's 2010-2013 Service Plan projects that revenue from casinos after the deduction of "prize" payouts will increase by $45 million this year, $58 million next year and $46 million the year after. What will probably be the largest casino in the province opens in 2013, meaning that next year's 2011-2014 service plan should show an even greater jump in revenue growth from gambling than is revealed in this year's plan.

This year's plan states that the provincial government (the Shareholder) has directed BCLC to: "Optimize the Corporation's financial performance and propose new revenue opportunities within the gaming and social policy framework established by the Shareholder". It goes on to state that: "BCLC is increasing our focus on the player and forecasting net income growth through innovative new games, services and marketing, continued improvements to casino and community gaming facilities and customer relations management." What cannot be pried out of BCLC is how much it spends on its seemingly omnipresent advertisements and other means of "customer relations management".

The plan is precise when it comes to specifying how much average British Columbians lose and how much more it intends on making them lose. The second goal in its plan is to: "Develop facilities and design innovative games to grow the business and Create an integrated multi-channel player community." One of the performance measures for that goal is to increase the "net win per capita" from $437 forecast for 2009-2010 to $503 in 2012-2013. Net win per capita is NOT the amount gamblers win; it is the average amount of revenue BCLC expects to take in for every person in the province age 19 and over after paying out prizes. Under the caption "player participation" (plan page 16), BCLC wrote that in the past it had a measure of increasing the percentage of adults who participated in some form of gaming in BC, but: "In 2010/11 BCLC plans to transition to measuring the frequency of play on a monthly basis so that we can better assess the relevancy of the gaming entertainment we offer and the effectiveness of player-focused programs in successfully increasing the frequency of play."

It takes a very irresponsible government to have a policy of increasing the amount its citizens spend on gambling by increasing the number who gamble and the frequency with which they gamble. Gordon Campbell has shown himself to be far worse than a hypocrite.