Prince Edward Island Revamps Responsible Gambling Strategy Amid Rising Digital Concerns

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In an unprecedented move, the government of Prince Edward Island has refreshed its responsible gambling strategy for the first time since the conception of the blueprint in 2008. At that time, the primary concern hinged on the potential damage brought about by video lottery terminals.

Presently, a newer concern looms on the horizon, as noted by Finance Minister Jill Burridge. Digital gambling has increasingly taken center-stage as the most pressing worry. “In the last 15 years”, says Burridge, “the landscape has morphed primarily towards the digital domain. Hence, an updated strategy is needful to address this issue effectively, allowing us to manage this transition responsibly”.

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In the past, P.E.I. had intentions to inaugurate an online casino with the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, but these plans were subsequently paused. The suspended plans stirred up dialogue and triggered calls for a renewed responsible gaming strategy.

The revised strategy crafted by consulting firm MRSB, commissioned by P.E.I. Lotteries Commission elaborates on the urgent need for the region to design a roadmap to dissuade Islanders from engaging with illicit offshore gambling establishments. It suggests the introduction of player cards for casino games and VLTs, featuring deposit and loss limits and offering feedback on playing habits.

Furthermore, the updated strategy advocates for the elimination of VLTs from sites encouraging alcohol consumption during gambling, promoting lengthy play, or failing to provide sufficient responsible gambling support. It underscores the province’s commitment to sustain funding for responsible gaming programs at a bare minimum of 1.5% of net gambling revenues.

Contrarily, Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly expressed dissatisfaction, citing that the allocated funding “does not go anywhere near enough”. He echoes the sentiments of the province’s Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, advocating for an increase in the designated figure.

In fiscal 2021-22, the province supported its responsible gambling strategy with $237,950, a mere one percent of the over $23 million amassed in gambling revenues. The province, however, allocated a substantial 17% of its gambling revenues, $3.9 million, to the harness racing industry.