In 2004, Canada Safety Council asked government to stop building casinos
In 2004, the Canada Safety Council declared addictive gambling a public health crisis, saying it accounted for 200 to 360 suicides a year. The council called for a moratorium on the expansion of casinos, an end to 24-hour casino operations, limits on gambling-related advertising and limits on how much a gambler can lose before being shut off.
And most Canadians agreed at the time that there was too much government-run gambling in the country and that the boost in tax revenues isn't worth the social cost, a national poll suggested. Most of those polled -- 58 per cent -- said increased opportunities to gamble had led to an increase in problem gambling, a study by Decima Research released late that year said.
Gambling in Canada had mushroomed since 1968, Canada Press reported after Decima released the results. It was then that the Montreal mayor, Jean Drapeau, announced the country's first legal lottery in order to raise money for the 1976 Olympics.
Fully 89 per cent of people polled by Decima said they had placed a wager or visited a casino, with lottery tickets being by far the most popular form of game.
In 2002 an estimated 19 million adults wagered $11.3 billion in games of one form or another - a four-fold increase from the $2.7 billion spent 10 years earlier.
Harvard Magazine commented on the trend toward government-sponsored gambling in a 2004 article entitled "Traffiking in Chance".
"What was once a deviant activity, run by organized crime and furtively pursued by the low-order criminal types of Guys and Dolls, has now joined the mainstream. State governments have shifted from being gambling’s regulators to its promoters."
Gambling in Nova Scotia can be linked to between five and 10 per cent of all personal bankruptcy cases, and 6.3 per cent of suicides, a study by GPI Atlantic, a research group in Halifax found. It also noted that problem gamblers have significantly higher rates of job loss, divorce, suicide, bankruptcy, poor health, arrest and incarceration.