In the face of the current economic crisis, it is increasingly important to consider the social costs of legalized gambling, according to a York University professor whose new book delves into the issue.
"During the recession of the early 1990s, profits from casino gambling were crucial for government budgets in many provinces," says Professor Thomas Klassen, who co-edited and contributed chapters to Casino State: Legalized Gambling in Canada, released yesterday by the University of Toronto Press.
Right: Thomas Klassen
"The question is, ‘Can gambling come to the rescue again this time, and at what cost?’ In times of economic uncertainty, it’s even more important to examine the real price of these policies," he says.
Klassen, a professor in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, and the School of Public Policy & Administration in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, says the book is a response to an "unprecedented explosion" of legalized gambling, particularly in the form of casinos and electronic gaming. It includes a chapter dealing specifically with the latter.
"The cold, hard truth is that Canadians are increasingly addicted to gambling – an addiction we believe is encouraged by the government," says Klassen.
The volume raises questions about state conduct, precarious policy issues, public health and addictions, and provides a comprehensive overview of the central issues related to the legalization and expansion of gambling in Canada.
Investigating the tensions that arise from the relationships between gambling and morality, risk, social policy, crime and youth problem gambling, these essays draw upon a range of disciplines to consider the economic benefits and social costs of legalized gambling. A contemporary study that raises important questions about state conduct, precarious policy issues, public health and addictions, Casino State provides a comprehensive overview of the central issues related to the legalization and expansion of gambling in Canada.
Klassen hopes it will spark debate amongst a wider audience. "We know that the public is becoming increasingly conscious of gambling addictions, so the awareness is definitely there," he says.
Casino State is co-edited by James F. Cosgrave, (BA Hons. ’86, MA ’88, PhD ’99) a sociologist at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont. Contributors include: Kerry Badgley, Carleton University; Colin S. Campbell, Douglas College; Jeffrey Derevensky, McGill University; Timothy F. Hartnagel, University of Alberta; Ray MacNeil, a former executive director of the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation; Jan McMillen, leading international gambling scholar; William Ramp, University of Lethbridge; Garry J. Smith, University of Alberta; and Harold Wynne, a consultant focusing on gambling-related issues.