Gambling and hospital lotteries: looking out for losers
- John Fletcher, MB BChir MPH
- Correspondence to: CMAJ editor, email@example.com
I have just finished reading Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, which has as its subject the devastating effect of an old man’s gambling on the people he loves. Dickens depicts well the flawed reasoning that grips an otherwise intelligent mind; the betrayal to which the old man will stoop to feed his craving to win back what he has lost; and, above all, his vulnerability and that of his granddaughter, Nell, to further misfortune.
It is tempting to believe that times have changed and that problem gambling is now uncommon, affecting only a small proportion of the people who participate. However, a news article in the July issue of CMAJ paints a different picture.1 Across Canada, about 4% of the population may be classified as problem gamblers. The proportion of gambling revenue these players generate is 23%.