Submission to the public debate on
National Gambling Bill 2003
From Gamblers Anonymous Gauteng Intergroup
In the preliminary drafting phase leading to the new National Gambling Bill, the following submission was made by members of the various gamblers anonymous groups in Gauteng with a view to improving the social impact sections of the Bill. As people who have become problem or compulsive gamblers, and who have for many years helped others to deal with the ravages of addictive gambling, we feel that we have a unique insight into the causes and effects of problem gambling.
What follows are excerpts of the recommendations that were submitted for inclusion in the Bill as well as a preamble outlining the principles behind this submission.
Problem, compulsive and addictive gambling and its attendant social impact is on the increase. Much like the HIV/AIDS issue was ignored in its early stages in the mid 1980’s, to ignore the exponential growth of problem gambling and its attendant impact on society at this crucial juncture will, in a few years, result in a crisis that is out of control.
1.1 Our concern is that the gambling industry derives a significant proportion of its revenue from addicted gamblers and makes most of its money from addicted gamblers. To quote the Hon. Nick Xenophon, Member of Parliament for South Australia "This industry makes the cream of its profits from addicted gamblers and from the vulnerable in our community."
1.2 In the words of Professor Robert Goodman in the preface to his seminal text on the economics of the gambling industry:
"A model of economic development that relies on gambling and chance to replace the jobs lost by productive industries is at least as disturbing for our future as the losses suffered by unsuccessful bettors. The shift in the role of governments from being watchdogs of gambling to becoming its leading promoters is also troubling. They have taken the schizophrenic role of picking up the tab for the increase in problem gambling while, at the same time, spending even more to promote its causes. Instead of serving the needs of their citizens, these governments are becoming predators upon them.
While proponents exaggerate the benefits of gambling expansion they downplay and often refuse to acknowledge its hidden costs which, as our research indicates, can be immense-running into the hundreds of millions in a single State. These costs are showing up in a variety of ways. Huge portions of discretionary consumer dollars are being diverted into gambling, resulting in losses to the restaurant and entertainment industries, movie theatres, sports events, clothing and furniture stores, and other business. In addition, police departments, courts and prison systems must contend with a whole new range of criminal activity, much of it caused by addicted gamblers.
Along with the devastating human tragedies of problem gambling come additional private and public costs, ranging from money lost by people who make loans to problem gamblers and aren't paid back, to the cost of treating, prosecuting or, in some cases, incarcerating problem gamblers who turn to crime to pay off their mounting debts."
Some of the following recommendations have been included in the new Bill. For clarity, the entire set of recommendations has been included here.
That a new chapter is included in the Bill for the specific purpose of addressing the negative social impact of gambling providing for inter alia:-
GA Norscot Manor and
For and on behalf of GAGI