Alberta group to study full range of gambling

A group of Alberta researchers, including a team from the University of Calgary, are conducting a study of 2,000 people focusing on problem and social gambling. In what is being hyped as a worldwide first, the group will look at the reasons people gamble, how often they gamble and what problems their gambling may cause.

During the five-year study, the group will look at all forms of gambling including lottery tickets, casinos, horse racing, sports betting, VLTs, bingo halls and raffles.

The findings from the study will be used to gain a better understanding of gambling and could be used to create better ways to solve gambling problems as well as develop better gambling policies.

According to the group's definition, anyone who spends more than $10 per month on gambling - either at casinos, by purchasing lottery tickets, betting on sports and other ways - is a gambler. Using that definition, Alberta has more gamblers per capita than almost anywhere else in Canada.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission estimates 82% of adult Albertans gamble, losing on average about $800 a year. Approximately 1% of Albertans are considered pathological gamblers who are unable to control their habit while 3% are considered problem gamblers.

Part of the problem may be accessibility since Calgary has the highest number of casinos per capita of any metropolitan area in Canada as well as 230 places to play VLT machines, a horse racing track and numerous lotteries.

David Hodgins, project coordinator for the study and a University of Calgary clinical psychology professor, said that there is very little data on gambling, and there's a lot of interest in gaining a better understanding of it.

Alberta residents who would like to participate in the study can call 1-888-897-0810.

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