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B.C. Addicts Ban Themselves from Casinos

8 January 2002

BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada –– As reported by the Vancouver Sun: "It's a club where membership has no privileges. In fact, it means no admittance whatsoever.

"Almost 600 problem gamblers in British Columbia have signed voluntary deals that allow security staff to eject them from the province's casinos, says a spokesman with the B.C. Lottery Corporation.

"The number of gamblers voluntarily banned from B.C. casinos has steadily increased since the corporation introduced its 'self-exclusion' program in July 1998, and reached 587 in a tally last week.

"…At present, self-exclusion is intended to help admitted gamblers stay out of casinos by permitting security staff to escort them off the premises if they're spotted inside any of B.C.'s 18 gaming facilities.

"The gamblers sign a form that bars them from all of the province's casinos for a period running from a minimum six months to a lifetime.

"…[Lottery corporation spokesman Scott MacFarlane] said the success of the program relies in part on the willingness of participants to honour the ban, but security staff have photos of everyone enrolled and, along with regular casino staff, are trained to recognize people exhibiting symptoms of gambling addiction.

"…Globally, about six per cent of gamblers are considered to have a serious problem, including two per cent who are categorized as pathological gamblers.

"B.C. pegs its problem gamblers at four per cent of casino patrons.

"Participants may opt to quit the program, but MacFarlane said revoking the self-exclusion involves more paperwork and questions from staff regarding motives for quitting.

"…MacFarlane said the province annually directs $4 million of gaming profits to counselling programs for problem gamblers, and advertises the self-exclusion program at its casinos.

"…B.C. has the second lowest per capita wagering, at $195 compared to the national average of $320, according to the gaming policy and enforcement branch.

"…All B.C. casinos are restricted to a maximum of 300 slot machines and 34 gaming tables. Most other Canadian casinos are significantly larger, ranging to more than 3,000 slot machines and over 100 table games."

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