The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (aka OLG) has a cute, Hallmarkesque TV ad on now, showing lots of happy people who’ve apparently just won millions gambling. Then the ad shows a bunch of other happy people who’ve apparently been able to have some life-saving surgery or something thanks to Ontario’s lottery and gaming profits.
The message is: Gamble – you’ll get rich AND fund a lot of vital social programs.
The OLG realizes approximately $6 billion in annual revenues. I’m pretty sure they don’t make this kind of money on people like me who occasionally buy a 649 ticket. No, the big money comes from problem gamblers who re-mortgage their homes, cash in their RRSPs and gamble away their kids’ education funds.
It almost looks as if our provincial government is actively encouraging its citizens to become serious, if not problem, gamblers. But that can’t be right, can it?
An estimated 332,000 people in this province have a moderate to severe gambling problem. (Out of a population of 12 million). That’s a pretty serious issue and/or a great PR effort on behalf of OLG. Problem gambling in Ontario has increased dramatically with the increase of access to gambling.
Government locates casinos in desperate communities with promises of how good they’ll be for the community — bringing jobs and tourist dollars, glamour and culture to the area. Of the revenues generated, however, something like 90% come directly from the people in the community where the casino is located, not magical tourists.
Overall, I think casinos end up costing a community more than they provide in benefits. The costs include increased law enforcement, government regulatory costs, suicide, illness, social service costs and gambling costs, all factors that stem from gambling addiction. Gambling addiction is associated with unemployment, financial problems. It’s connected to spousal and child abuse.
But, says OLG, gaming revenue funds vital social programs. So, gambling revenue is really a form of tax that’s coerced from certain targeted groups of people?
Seems to me, originally, lotteries were run to match funds for special projects (remember Wintario?). Now, it seems the province is as addicted to gambling as their victims.
OLG claims that over the last 30 years, they have generated “more than $23 billion for physical fitness, sport and recreation programs, cultural activities, and the operation of hospitals”.
And where does the rest of the money go? Just under $1 billion per year for social funding, $248 million is spent annually on marketing and promotion and I guess the rest is administration or something. It’s definitely not disbursed in winnings.
I don’t know. I’m kind of creeped out by the whole notion of our government preying on its weak and vulnerable citizens and pushing then into an addiction in order to turn a quick and easy profit. When organized crime does this it’s called racketeering.