Concessions for a necessary evil

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If video lottery terminals are a necessary evil, and if we cannot do without the $150 million-plus in annual revenue they bring to our province's coffers, than a new system to track the habits of gamblers is unavoidable.
The Informed Player Choice System, which is now online for a trial run in Sydney, is a card-based system designed to provide gamblers with individualized information about their playing habits.
For the time being, it is a voluntary system but before the end of the year it will be hooked up to each of this province's 2,800 VLTS, including those on First Nations reserves. Previously the system had been tested in Windsor and Mount Uniacke.
First and foremost, it allows players access to their personal gambling activity. It allows them to set spending limits, establish gambling time frames or create self-imposed gambling bans for set time periods.
A fact sheet from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation released in April touts the province as being the first jurisdiction in the world to implement such a system and boasts that we will soon have the most informed player base in the world.
We realize the Informed Player Choice System is but one piece of a larger puzzle, which includes advertising and self-help resources but it's unfortunate that, for all of the innovation, such a system wasn't designed with the problem gambler in mind. The target audience here is the no-risk to low-risk set, not those who could be described as addicted.
How many of us have seen people waiting in front of the local watering hole at 10 a.m., waiting to be the first to cash in on a fresh machine? How many of us have seen stories in the media of men and women convicted of fraud because of their inability to quit 'the machines?' What good will this be for them?
And, on the other hand, how attractive will it be for someone who might occasionally drop a fiver in a VLT to register yet another piece of identification (that's how we'd describe it), especially one which tracks their activities?
We'll have to see.

Organizations: Informed Player Choice System, First Nations, Nova Scotia Gaming

Geographic location: Sydney, Windsor, Mount Uniacke

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