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Casino opens – will GA meetings be more crowded?

Interesting study about what’s happens to rates of gambling and problem gambling when a new casino opens. Jacques and Lanouceur of Laval University in Quebec looked at the rates of gambling and problem gambling in a small town of 800 in Quebec which opened a casino, compared to another small town without a casino.

Not surprisingly, there was a significant increase in gambling the year the casino opened. However, gambling dropped off by the 2 year mark, and 4 years afterwards, it was back to baseline. So people are attracted to the novelty of a casino, but lose interest as time goes by.

However, when they looked at rates of problem gambling, there was no difference between the 2 towns. They’re not sure why, other than to say that the connection between the availability of gambling and the rates of problem gambling may be more complex than we’ve thought. So GA – Gamblers Anonymous – won’t need more chairs or coffee quite yet.

Anyone have a hypothesis about why, contrary to what we’d expect, problem gambling didn’t increase??

(The complete study is published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Oct 2006.)

2 thoughts on “Casino opens – will GA meetings be more crowded?

  1. Interesting study. I’m reluctant to be real confident in the results, given that it’s just one observation. Plus, the fact that it’s a town of 800 means that there is a small number of people to start with, so how many people in the town are likely to have a gambling problem. . .4? 8? It could be that you see no difference because there aren’t enough observations in the town. It would have been better to examine all the towns within, say, a 1 hour drive of the town (and the control town). But if the finding held up, I guess it would indicate that access is not that important in the addiction. People who are likely to develope a gambling problem don’t need to be in the same town–they are willing to drive some distance, or go on line.

  2. There are so many outlets for those with gambling addictions. The underground economy for gambling is enormous and includes numbers rackets, sports betting and private casinos. Sadly, if someone has a problem they will fill that need regardless of whether a brick and mortar casino is close by.

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