How big is the problem? - Gaming regulator wants Gov't to examine compulsive gambling

October 14, 2016
Lottery tickets
Gamblers gather in an off-track betting parlour to place wager on a Sunday.

Fearful that Jamaica could be overrun by persons who gamble continuously, the entity that is set up to oversee the development of casino gaming in Jamaica has called on the Government to urgently study the problem.

"In preparation for casino gambling in Jamaica, the commission came to the conclusion that it is important that research be undertaken to establish the current levels of problem gambling in Jamaica," a report tabled in Parliament said.

The Jamaica Child and Adolescent Gambling Survey 2007, which was conducted by Hope Enterprise Limited on behalf of RISE Life Management Services, found that nearly 11 per cent of Jamaican teens were problem gamblers and an additional 9.6 per cent were classified as at risk.

"What this translates to is that one out of every five adolescents, or basically 20 per cent of the population between the ages of 10 and 19, is either a problem gambler or is at risk of becoming one," the survey found.

In its report to Parliament, the Casino Gaming Commission said that the research is critical since there is currently no established benchmark as it relates to the levels of problem gambling in Jamaica.

"While the commission is aware that problem gambling is a worldwide phenomenon, it is a matter that needs to be addressed by putting measures in place to reduce its effects on the local community," the Commission said.

"Conducting such a research agenda will ensure that problems faced by the current gambling outlets will be documented and recommendations made for mitigating the problems currently being experienced. It will provide the benchmark for future studies in mapping the impact of casinos, when they become operational on problem gaming. This study will also provide information that will be useful and could benefit internal and external stakeholders, allowing them to make informed decisions with respect to their operations," it added.




Jamaica is set to introduce casino gaming to the gaming landscape, which already has gaming lounges, lotteries, wagering, and betting.

Richard Henry, project coordinator for the Gambling Prevention Programme at RISE Life, told THE WEEKEND STAR that his entity has been asking for a problem gaming study to be done.

There has never been a study on adult gambling in Jamaica or for that matter within the English-speaking Caribbean. Henry said that such a study would, among other things, establish prevalence and incidence rates of gambling disorders islandwide as well as correlations with psychiatric illnesses, domestic violence and drug-use disorders.

Henry said that RISE had met with Phillip Shelton, former head of the Casino Gaming Commission, prior to him leaving, and he agreed that there was need for a study on adult gaming in Jamaica. Henry said that the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission has show reasonable interest in moving this process along and getting the study done.

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