The latest outcry from public health officials in Quebec was a plea to the government to delay online gambling by at least one year. The outcry comes from health officials from 18 regions in Quebec who are not only calling for a delay but for additional monitoring. Read more.
That’s great, it’s good to see the public health officials stepping up for cause that will really make a difference. Oh wait, there are over 2000 un-regulated online gaming entities that Quebecers already have access to…It really doesn’t make sense.
For one thing, I’m not sure how involved the health officials need to be in this matter. If anything, the real concern with Loto-Quebec going online is their relative inexperience in the online market, and the question of whether they will be able to provide a successful and well regulated product to the residents of Quebec, to me that’s the real concern. I understand the fears associated with the launch of an online gambling forum in Quebec and it’s understandable that health officials are concerned with a possible increase in problem gamblers, everyone understands that. Here’s the thing, people in Quebec already have access to pretty much any online gambling site they want illegal or not, it’s as easy as turning on their computer. The other thing is I’m not sure what delaying or having additional monitoring will achieve.
It puzzles me the extent to which public health officials are taking this. It’s puzzling because one would think that other health issues would be at the forefront of the agenda. For instance, health officials do not protest when a new beer is introduced. That’s a superficial example, but the point is there is plenty of alcoholics out there, isn’t more alcohol the last thing they need? It’s the same deal with smoking, and those two actually kill people. People like to drink, people like to smoke and people love to gamble, some way the hell more than others, not sure how you police that. Now, for the Quebecers sake I hope those two other items aren’t next on their list, and this isn’t an argument against the agenda of the public health officials in Quebec, I’m just trying to understand what the point is. Let’s say they get their wish and the Quebec government actually agrees to monitor the online gambling for two years, which is more likely than postponing the move for a year, what happens next? The reality is, Loto-Quebec will always contend that they are committed to offering responsible gaming, so even if the percentage of problem gamblers increases, I highly doubt they’ll just shut down the operation, particularly once they check the bottom line.
I guess inevitably, public health officials will get their paper victory, it will likely be in a post it caution screen label along the lines of “warning, this product is highly addictive”, because that is a real solution and will certainly solve all the problems right?