Ontario Lawmakers Pull Plug on Gambling Addiction Agency ahead of Gaming Expansion

Ontario is on the verge of major changes in its gambling field which could make regulated online gambling a reality. More accessible gambling offerings could result in an increased risk of problem gambling which could be battled via various gambling addiction programs and additional funding. However, it was recently announced that the government would no longer be financing Gambling Research Exchange Ontario.

Problem gambling rates are a concerning thought for both individuals directly affected by the gambling expansion and experts in the field warning about the risks Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government takes with this move. Instead of reinforcing its problem gambling battling services across the province, the government has decided to pull the plug on the agency specifically dedicating its efforts to seeking answers on gambling addiction.

Diverse Online Gambling Could Launch Soon

The government funds Gambling Research Exchange Ontario on an annual basis and this year the budget was supposed to amount to CA$2.5 million and fund its extensive research on the subject for the following twelve months. However, as it became clear the agency would no longer be funded by the government, but that is not all.

It was confirmed that July would have to see the official shut down of operation, leaving 14 individuals currently employed at it without a reliable source of income. The announcement came as a surprise, as the province was expected to bring more resources to preventing gambling addiction and unhealthy gaming behavior from thriving. This decision would affect other major corporations in the local gambling field.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Alcohol and Gaming Commission Ontario both utilize the intelligence offered by the agency on a regular basis, improving their efforts in making the gambling space a much safer one. Politicians stated that the shut down aligns well with the overall direction of development that would shift the spotlight to direct action.

Government Shuts Down Essential Agency

Trudy Smit Quosai, Chief Executive Officer of Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, pointed out that for the past 20 years the agency has been supporting the community with its research and findings directly affecting individuals. A disappointment was expressed, especially because the progress made was substantial and Ontario was associated with advanced problem gambling research and battling.

This plug pulling would not mean complete shut down of problem gambling research in Ontario, as the government would still pour some CA$33 million in various treatment programs offering help to people in need of such in these trying times. The opposition was quick to condemn the move, pointing out that this is not the time for funding reduction and focus shifting, as the province is on the verge of groundbreaking changes.

It could be recalled that mid-April the government issued the blueprint of its 2019 budget which projects major changes in the gaming field. According to the language of this budget, casino locations would be encouraged to offer their casino patrons free alcohol on site. The government would also seek the introduction of new names to the online gaming field, eliminating Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s current monopoly. Regulated single-event sports wagering would also be a topic of discussion.

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