In recent years, gambling has become one of hottest political issues in Canada. The word “gaming” is the term preferred by the gambling industry over “gambling”. Both words refer to the same kinds of activities in Canada which include lotteries, casinos, charitable gaming and pari-mutuel wagering such as horse racing. The gambling industry and gambling activity in Canada have been growing rapidly over the last few years. Gambling has become part of most people s everyday lives. The public s attitude has also changed dramatically over time. Many people see it as a leisure activity. In British Columbia, the total amounts wagered during the 1992/93 was approximately 1.2 billion dollars. By 1995/96 the number had increased to almost 1.7 billion dollars and such a number is reaching to 2 billion dollars. Gambling has become a socially acceptable source of entertainment and government revenue. Groups from B.C. have differing reasons to support or oppose legalized gambling and the expansion of gambling from government who receive large amount of money every year from the gambling industry.
Gambling today is no longer simply a matter of the traditional bingo night for a local charity organization. The gambling industry at the end of 1990s is quite different from the past. Gambling was once low-tech and labor-intensive industry and people had to wait for a long period of time between each event. It was also controlled by some illegal groups or criminal organizations. Now it is a 24 hours activity with instant result and without waiting too long. Government is playing an important role in today s gambling industry. There are kinds of gaming activity which are sponsored or controlled by government who sees it as one of the major sources of it s revenue.
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Economic impact of gambling:
Government revenue–This is a key point that why government support legalized gambling and expansion of the industry. In 1994, almost half a trillion of dollars were wagered within Canada. During 1995 and 1996, the government net gaming revenue was $ 264.9 millions. By 1998/99 this had increased to almost $ 400 millions. Such a dramatically increase in government revenue influence it s attitude to push for expansion of gambling. It is considered to be an alternative to raising taxes.
Government has been spending lots of effort in reducing budgetary deficits in the last few years but there seems no profound effects. In education, colleges and university s tuition fees have been increased by around 30% in five years because the government is cutting its budget. This puts extremely high pressure on most students. Moreover, by cutting the total amount of government student grant may result in keeping people away from going back to school. The similar problem also exist in other area such as medical and social welfare which may cause greater impact on the society.
Employment rate–Many people believe that gambling expansion can create more job opportunities and as a result reduce the unemployment rate. Those jobs are well paying with good benefits associated with them. No body can deny that the gambling industry in British Columbia employs thousands of people. These people include minorities and women. Frank Farenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, said that, “gaming is creating jobs and rejuvenating dying cities. ” He point out that some ethic groups are trying to destroy the gambling industry by raising the issue of the “so-called problem gambler, some woman who lost her milk money for the kids.” It is not the government responsibility to protect people from themselves, he said. “There is something called personal discipline.”
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However, some opponents argue that gambling expansion may cause unemployment. They think that when gambling comes into a community, it doesn’t create any new job opportunity or doesn’t bring any new money, it just takes money away from other business. This argument has been out there for a long time and kept being pushed by anti-gaming opponents. In fact, what it actually helps the growth of other businesses. In addition, there will be a new mall coming into a community and in that new mall there’s a new and modern cinema complex, shoe stores, restaurants. When that new mall comes into a community, that old theater that was once there; the old shoe stores; the old restaurants are likewise going to suffer. That s the way how the capitalist system runs.
Social impact of gambling:
Crime rates–some people think that having a casino or gambling in their community attracts crime. That there’s something inherent in gambling that creates street crime.
There is nothing inherent in gambling. Any activity that attracts large numbers of people may cause an increase in crime rates. It doesn’t have anything to do with gambling, inherently.
Problem gamblers–the number of problem gambler is about 1 – 5% of the population. People who can’t help themselves and will go in and gamble away their money. They are said to be “addicted” to gambling. The opponents say that these people go out and commit crimes and they go on welfare and therefore they are a drain on society. And therefore we shouldn’t allow this to go on. And that’s one of the reasons why to stop gambling. But we should not forget that most people does not have such a problem. We should not just taking consideration of small groups of people and ignore the benefit of the majority.
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Many people think that Canadians enjoy gambling, that the gaming industry brings new jobs and money with them when they come to a community. Government sees it as an important source of revenue. In my opinion, our society should be more open to the expansion of gambling which will benefit the whole community.