Volume 94, Issue 25

Friday, October 13, 2000


Fanshawe asks for $5 million

Mt. Trudeau re-naming draws critics

Degrees now available online

London slots mark first year

As Prime Minister Lackner, I would...

Parker brings well-rounded resume to the BOG table

Fortin for BOG and Justice for students

Planet Me

London slots mark first year

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

Although the slot machines at the Western Fair grounds have brought in record payoffs since their unveiling last year, community members have expressed concerns the venue is nurturing potential gambling problems.

Jason Smith, manager of Western Fair racetrack slots, said the Ontario Lottery Corporation has done well since the installation of the slot machines just one year ago.

"Total revenues were around $30.3 million for the last fiscal year spanning from April to March," he said. "We've had a lot of people in and out of the [Western Fair] facility – around 2,700 a day."

Smith said the response from the London community has been positive and overall, it has been a very prosperous year. "We've been rather successful with the local market," he said, adding the birthday event lasted three days at the Fair.

While the monetary benefits have been higher than expected, the social costs have been equally as large. "Slot machine gambling is now our number one addiction problem when listed by our patients," said Bonnie Orvidas, a gambling addiction councillor at the Alcohol & Drug Services of Thames Valley.

Orvidas said people need to know that slots are not a place to make money, they are a source of entertainment.

"In reality, only one to three per cent of people will get into trouble with slot gambling. The scary thing is the vulnerable people who will see them as a way to make money," she said.

Western sociology professor Paul Whitehead, said the more available and acceptable you make gambling the more people will use it – and use it in excess.

"All of the revenues are a lot higher than expected and conversely, more people are also seeking help for addiction gambling," he said. "It's not surprising and these facts weren't unanticipated by the city."

According to Whitehead these negatives far outweigh any financial positives.

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