Gambling Consiquences in Canada: Who Has The Rights to Access

Gambling is seen as both a right and an acceptable activity in Canada. Canadians believe gambling to be an inevitable part of our culture in spite of the acknowledged consequences. On balance, gambling is seen to do more harm to our communities than good with Canadians perceiving no positive impact on Canadians quality of life. Only 10% of Canadians indicate that gambling has any kind impact upon them personally, positive or negative.

Gambling has both positive and negative consequences for communities. Gambling developments can bring in tourism and entertainment dollars, increase employment, fund charities and communities. At the same time, gambling expansion can harm existing businesses, increase crime, increase problem gambling and lower the quality of life. While a good deal of attention is paid to the quantifiable benefits of gambling (jobs created, revenue), the costs are more difficult to quantify, and are therefore easily misunderstood. As a result, few studies have successfully measured the cost and benefits of gambling in a community. Public attitudes and opinions towards these issues are, however, more measurable and concrete. To provide a measure of certainty on this issue, the survey outlines CanadiansÕ attitudes and perceptions on the harm and benefit of gambling in their communities.

Canadians place a value on the right to gamble. Although not everyone chooses to participate in gambling, preserving the opportunity to gamble is important to respondents. The survey measured this importance by asking respondents to indicate whether they agree or disagree with the statement,Òit is my right to gamble regardless of the consequences.Ó In total, 63% of the sample agree or strongly agree with this statement (see Figure 24). Western Canadians have the strongest views that they have the right to participate in gambling. Respondents from the Prairies (40% strongly agreeing) and BC (39% strongly agreeing) are the strongest in favour of this statement, while Quebec (20% strongly disagreeing) and Atlantic respondents (25% strongly disagreeing) have the strongest levels of disagreement.

Responses vary with age. Younger respondents expressed a stronger interest in preserving their rights. Those aged 18- 34 are more likely to agree (71%) that the right to gamble is more important than the consequences than are those 55 years of age or older (56%).

Respondents also view gambling as an acceptable community activity. As shown in Figure 25, 63% of respondents agree that Òon the whole, gambling is an acceptable activity in (their province).Ó There is not however a strong sense of agreement, as the plurality (43%) only somewhat agree with the statement. On the whole, this question serves as a good barometer of public opinion on gambling in Canada. Although the majority support the acceptability of gambling, this support is not strongly held. In contrast, while those who do not view gambling as acceptable may be few in number, their opinions are held more strongly.

FIGURE 24: DO YOU AGREE THAT: “it is my right to gamble regardless of the consequences”
Strongly Agree – 35%
Somewhat Agree – 28%
Neither – 5%
Somewhat Disagree – 13%
Strongly Disagree – 19%
FIGURE 25: DO YOU AGREE THAT: “on the whole, gambling is an acceptable activity in (province)”
Strongly Agree – 19%
Somewhat Agree – 43%
Neither – 9%
Somewhat Disagree – 12%
Strongly Disagree – 15%