Gambling Addiction

Problem gambling, compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, casinos, poker, blackjack, online gambling

Better Living

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HOST: Valerie Pringle

GUEST: Dr. Durand Jacobs, First Vice-President, National Council on Problem Gambling; Howard Faulkner, Director, Alberta Alcohol & Drug Abuse Commission

PRINGLE: Legalized gambling's an issue Canadians have debated fairly hotly over the years -- from lottery tickets to provincially-sanctioned casinos, which are springing up all over the place. It's an opportunity obviously for the provincial governments to make some money, but one social cost is an increase in gambling addition, which is the focus of a conference taking place in Alberta today.

Who helps the gamblers that casinos help create?

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Al has a gentle face. He has a face of soft creases and pale-blue eyes. He looks older than his 52 years.

Al used to steal money from his daughter. He used to take money from his wife's purse. Once he stole $4,500 from a charity to which he belonged. He begged, borrowed and lifted every cent he could lay his hands on, and then bet it and lost it.

''I'd go through $90 a day, just on bingo,'' he recalls, in a sad, quiet voice. ''It was nothing to put down $75 on lottery tickets.''

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