VLT: Large majority of money from small minority of 'problem gamblers'


Alarming numbers coming out of Concordia University suggest Loto-Quebec is making a large chunk of its money off the backs of a small number of addicted gamblers.

“There is a concentration in the revenues being generated by this little group of people that have a problem with gambling,” said Dr. Sylvia Kairouz, co-author of the study published in Journal of Business Research, which compares data from Quebec, France, and Germany.

The study finds 82 per cent of the revenues from Quebec’s Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) are earned off just 16 per cent of players.

“Those machines have some characteristics and are designed in a way that might be compelling for some kind of people, who are more at risk of developing a problem with gambling,” she said.

She says the numbers warrant governmental review and a greater societal debate over the controversial VLTs.

However, not all researchers are convinced banning the machines will solve the problem.

“Problem gamblers will figure out ways to gamble,” said Dr. Jeffery Derevensky, psychology professor specializing in gambling at McGill University.

He says part of the problem lies in the programming of the machines.

“The bill accepters can be lowered to only take in $20 bills or $10 bills,” he said. “We can give people warning signs and put in pre-set limits so people can set how much they are willing to lose ahead of time.”