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Addicted to revenue

BRITISH Columbia's addiction to gambling is continuing to reap sad stories. But despite mounting evidence that gambling expansion has created a host of social problems, the government has been slow to do anything about them. Most recently, a B.C.

BRITISH Columbia's addiction to gambling is continuing to reap sad stories. But despite mounting evidence that gambling expansion has created a host of social problems, the government has been slow to do anything about them.

Most recently, a B.C. man is calling on casinos to do more to help addicted gamblers after his wife committed suicide in Lynn Canyon. She had accumulated a six-figure gambling debt.

She was part of the self-exclusion program for problem gamblers. But that has proved remarkably ineffectual at helping those with serious problems, who are often adept at hiding their addiction.

Figures show suicides linked to gambling addictions are increasing. So are a host of other problems. Twenty years ago it was a rarity to find people in criminal court who had gambling addiction. Not any longer.

One suggestion to help problem gamblers is a requirement that those entering casinos show their identification at the door. That makes a lot of sense. It's a minimal imposition and one that could also help address other problems in the gambling industry, like money laundering and loansharking.

Social problems created by gambling used to be a concern of government. Now that same government is planning to launch gambling apps for mobile phones, making it even easier for people to get into trouble. That's a step in the wrong direction, driven by the love of easily collected revenue.

It's time the province put the welfare of its citizens above the lure of gambling dollars.

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