Government is making the most-significant service increase in over 10 years for British Columbians who are at risk of gambling addiction.
The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) will offer new and much-needed additional off-site services, and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) will expand the GameSense Advisor program.
“Our government is committed to improving mental-health services for everyone,” said Attorney General David Eby. “We must address the long-neglected and underfunded addiction risks associated with gambling. These changes ensure prevention and support services will be more readily available for those who need them most — not just in casinos, but anywhere in the province.”
Under a new model, BCLC will assume full responsibility for and cost of the GameSense Advisor program, and will eventually hire additional advisors for all 18 community gaming centres (CGC) in the province. GPEB will keep the $1.2 million in funding that was previously dedicated to GameSense Advisors and will use it to immediately expand out-of-casino services, like early intervention, counselling and harm reduction. GPEB will address existing service gaps, including outreach to online players exhibiting problem gambling behaviour and the expansion of community training programs in Indigenous communities to provide culturally sensitive supports.
“Addiction is a complex health condition that comes in many forms and affects people from all walks of life. Like other addictions, a person struggling with a gambling addiction needs to know there is hope and help,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Expanding prevention and awareness programs for gamblers, while also enhancing counselling and clinical options, is an important step in allowing people to get access to the help they need.”
- The government’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch will immediately use the $1.2 million to expand services that meet the changing needs of at-risk and online gamblers, including counselling, outreach to high-risk populations and community training for problem-gambling prevention and support.
- In 2016-17, GPEB’s clinical treatment program provided counselling and treatment services to 1,390 individuals with a gambling problem — a fraction of the people believed to be suffering from problem gambling behaviour in B.C.
- GameSense Advisors are responsible gambling specialists in casinos who help patrons make safer decisions about their gambling and provide support and information about accessing problem-gambling resources.
- GameSense Advisors also play a vital role in the Voluntary Self-Exclusion program, which allows patrons to voluntarily exclude themselves from all gambling facilities and from accessing BCLC’s online gambling site.
- Over the next 30 months, every casino and community gaming centre in B.C. will be staffed by these advisors, funded by BCLC.
For more information on the Responsible and Problem Gambling program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/gambling-fundraising/responsible-gambling/responsible-problem-gambling-program
For details on the GameSense Advisor program: https://www.bcresponsiblegambling.ca/getting-help/gamesense-advisors
For job postings for the GameSense Advisor program: http://www.bclc.com/careers-gsa/
For more information on A Plan for Public Health and Gambling in British Columbia: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/sports-recreation-arts-and-culture/gambling/gambling-in-bc/reports/plan-rg-public-health-and-gambling-2015.pdf