SUBMISSIONS IN RESPONSE TO THE DRAFT NATIONAL
GAMBLING BILL 2003
Author of Report:
Raj Govender, Founder and Director of The National Council on Problem Gambling (Gamhelp)
Introduction The report has been written in consultation with members of the Board of Gamhelp. Our submissions focus on the 'social impacts' of problem gambling and the need for the Bill to place more emphasis on the recognition of, and the support for 'compulsive or problem' gamblers.
Gamhelp looks at gambling from a holistic perspective. Its services include both preventative (education, etc.) and curative (family and individual counseling, support groups, etc) measures.
We have first hand knowledge of the severe financial and emotional impacts that gambling has on the both the 'compulsive gambler' and his family. We are also aware that compulsive gambling has no boundaries and affects people from all walks of life, whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate.
We therefore make the following brief recommendations, and welcome the invitation to make personal submissions at future public hearings that will be held.
· People employed in the gambling sector should be educated and trained on the issue of 'problem gambling' and the 'handling' of problem gamblers
· Medical insurance should be made available to cover the costs of therapy required by the 'problem gambler' and his/her family
· The gambling industry in general should be mandated to contribute a portion of their 'takings' towards treatment for 'problem gamblers' and their families
· Operating time for casinos should be regulated, similar to that of restaurants and sports bars as included in the Liquor Act
· Restrictions should be placed on visitation times for minors at casinos
· Vendors who sell lottery tickets to minors should be fined or prosecuted
· Lotteries should be restricted to one day in the week instead of the current recommendation of every day in the week
· Slot machines should not be available at the local 'corner shops', taverns, pubs, etc. as is currently being planned for. Easy accessibility, especially to lower income areas, will lead to an increase in social problems
· Casino should not be allowed to be located close to residential areas, especially lower income residential areas, as is the case with the 'Sugar-mill Casino'
We at Gamhelp believe that the Portfolio committee has the power to create a policy that can make a difference to the lives of many compulsive gamblers and their families in South Africans. We hope this submission assists you in this endeavor.