Development of lower-risk gambling guidelines
Commercial gambling has been legal in Canada since 1970 and it continues to expand in all provinces and territories. Many other countries have witnessed a similar rate of growth. With increased availability of gambling, some have raised concerns regarding its long-term, impacts on public health (Korn and Shaffer, 1999). Though efforts have been made to provide gamblers guidance regarding how to minimize risk of harm, this advice is typically vague (e.g., “Only bet amounts that you can afford to lose”, “Set yourself a time limit”, etc.).
Using the same collaborative, evidence-driven approach that produced Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, this project aims to develop Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines (LRGGs) with clear quantitative limits on gambling behaviour to help people make informed decisions about their gambling.
In April 2016, a scientific working group was formed. After developing and publishing a research protocol (Currie et al., 2018), the group assembled a group of international experts to synthesize evidence. Nine international population datasets were chosen (two from Canada and the remainder from the United States, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, France, Australia, and New Zealand) to assess the relationship between gambling involvement (i.e., frequency, expenditure, and duration) and gambling related harms (i.e., financial, relationship, emotional, and physical harms).
A Canadian national advisory committee, including partners from government and industry, was formed to review the evidence and provide feedback on the development of the LRGGs.
In late 2018, preliminary LRGGs were developed, presented and discussed with the team of international collaborators and the national advisory committee. These preliminary limits will be presented. A final technical report will be produced in March 2020 detailing the final guidelines, the evidence that informed their development, limitations, and essential contextual factors.
It is hoped that development and promotion of these guidelines will contribute to the reduction of gambling-related harms.