Client tracking could identify problem gamblers
Casinos’ customer records should be used to flag players who may have gambling problems, an activist who forced Quebec’s gaming corporation to release reports about possible gambling-related suicides said yesterday.
At a news conference to discuss 167 incident reports at Hull and Montreal casinos, Gatineau-based social activist Bill Clennett and social worker Alain Dubois said casinos’ "player cards" could be used to prevent suicides and gambling-related incidents.
"They could use the information in a more preventative way," said Clennett, who fought Loto-Quebec for access to the documents for over five years before the corporation released them last week.
Dubois, a social worker with the Ethical Moderation of Gambling in Quebec, who analyzed the reports, said epilepsy and cardiac problems may be linked to casino use and he recommended that public health departments analyze the connection.
The documents listed two suicides — including one in which a man drowned himself in Ottawa’s Rideau River in 1999 — linked to Quebec casinos.
"The man had a card in his pocket from the casino," said Jean-Pierre Roy, a director with Loto-Quebec. "Police asked if we could look at the casino camera to see if he was in there shortly before his death and that was the case."
The documents showed there were six attempted suicides and eight threats of suicide linked to the Montreal casino and Casino de Lac-Leamy.
Area anti-gambling groups said making the reports public is a positive step.
"It is generally beneficial for people to be aware … so they can watch for signs in their friends and relatives," said Brad Davey, executive director of ConnexOntario Health Services Information, which operates the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline.