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Dr. Kerry G.E. Chambers Can the Canadian Gaming Industry be Sustained While Minimizing Harm?

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Presentation on theme: "Dr. Kerry G.E. Chambers Can the Canadian Gaming Industry be Sustained While Minimizing Harm?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr. Kerry G.E. Chambers Can the Canadian Gaming Industry be Sustained While Minimizing Harm?

2 “Driving Downtown” – Proposed Vancouver Facility

3 The facility will comprise 2 buildings, 125 yards apart, golfers on top of one building and a net on the other; It will contain restaurants, lounges, live entertainment; Expected to service downtown golfers and draw locals and tourists to the city core; Estimated generation of 70 jobs, $1 million in municipal taxes and $20 million to the province.

4 Proponents cite one minor issue: 1 – 2% of golfers will be unable to hit net and restrain themselves from ‘driving;’ some pedestrians below will be injured by stray balls with the odd smashed window. Golfers will be asked to play ‘responsibly’ – only play if they know they can hit the net and stop if they lose control of their swing; golfers are accountable for injury/damage to pedestrians and property. The city will post signs and warn businesses; informed choice among pedestrians and businesses that choose to walk/locate in the area.

5 “Driving Downtown” has all of the typical arguments used by governments/gaming industry to justify harm: entertainment; maximize recreation for the majority; employment, profit, tax revenues; freedom of choice and individual responsibility. Can we justify it as a legitimate activity despite the certainty of harm to some golfers and others? But is “Driving Downtown” sustainable?

6 It Depends : Golf is enjoyed by millions, but “Driving Downtown” means some will be injured, perhaps killed. Can reasonable steps be taken to minimize and reduce potential harm? Political-economic solutions and laws develop out of ethical judgements and are not value neutral – sustaining the industry while minimizing harm is no exception.

7 Sustaining the gaming industry while minimizing harm would mean: Reconsidering utilitarian arguments; A precautionary approach embedded in contractualism; Reflexive collaboration among stakeholders that is adjudicated by an independent 3 rd party without vested interests.

8 Millian Utilitarianism Actions that promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people are morally right; the reverse are morally wrong. Liberty - freedom to choose our path to happiness is paramount. Actions should not be constrained by a sense of duty as long as we do not violate the rights of others.

9 Reconsidering Utilitarianism for Harm Minimization We can justify any harm to maximize the benefits of the many at the expense of the few (Scanlon 1998 ). Freedom of choice as advocated by the industry and Reno Model of responsible gambling (Blaszczynski et al. 2004:311) is problematic: 1.All actions are influenced by political, economic, social, and cultural factors – e.g. suicide, the most individual act of all; 2.Mills own ‘Harm Principle’ – individual actions must be constrained when they produce harm to others (Mill 1859). 3.How do we reconcile freedom of choice with harm to others?

10 Precautionary Contractualism Precautionary Approach Contractualism

11 Precautionary Approach Upholding healthy activities for all individuals; Take action when credible evidence exists even if nature and magnitude of harm is unknown; Identify, evaluate and implement safest feasible approaches to meet community needs; Responsibility is on originators of risk to study and minimize risk, choose safest alternatives, with independent review of studies and implementation; Transparent and inclusive policy making to increase participation among all, especially those impacted (Benevides and McClenaghan 2002:13).

12 Contractualism Based in a social contract of agreement between rational autonomous actors (Scanlon 1998) ; Under contractualism, actions or outcomes are wrong when they cannot be reasonably justified to others; “Rescue principle:” if we can alleviate the suffering or plight to others by making a modest sacrifice to ourselves it would be morally wrong not to do so (p. 224).

13 Precautionary Contractualism Stakeholders must make their case to reasonably reject precautionary measures that would protect people from harm; It is incumbent upon originators of risk to provide resources for stakeholders to undertake their own assessments to inform individuals in their groups; Transparent and inclusive policy making would seek reasonable compromise among those harmed, communities, industry, and government;

14 Example: Pre-Commitment Strategies Industry interpretation of evidence from Nova Scotia indicates smart card is best suited for prevention – may increase harm to some problem gamblers. Independent research suggests otherwise: many moderate risk and problem gamblers could benefit if card is mandatory (Schellinck, Schrans, & Focal Research Consultants 2010). Using precautionary contractualism, we might legitimately reject voluntary use to minimize harm and enhance industry corporate social responsibility; however, what is reasonable could differ by jurisdiction.

15 Reflexive Collaboration – True Idealism Governments are in a conflict of interest; Gaming industry puts profits before people; Both largely ignore any precautionary principle.  Need a collaborative structure where stakeholder groups reach compromise and implement precautionary contractualism – must be a level playing field.

16 Reflexive Collaboration – True Idealism  Requires government and industry funding for independent 3 rd party research to inform dialogue.  Independent 3 rd party necessary for adjudication.  Precedent: Virginia tobacco growers, health advocates and anti-tobacco lobbyists collaborate (Linden 2010). Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement 1998 (Tobacco Companies also fund anti-smoking advocacy group).  Public concern is mounting – industry may not be sustained without minimizing harm in some fashion.

17 Ouroboros Creation from destruction; but also Self-reflexivity Balance between dualities Public concern has always been high in Canada – industry may not be sustained without a concerted push toward harm minimization

18 “I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back” Tolstoy (1886: 55).

19 Questions?

20 Sources: Benevides, H. & T. McClenaghan (2002). Implementing Precaution: An NGO Response to the Government of Canada’s Discussion Document: “A Canadian Perspective on the Precautionary Approach/Principle.” Prepared for and with the assistance of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. Report No. 419. Toronto, Ontario. Blaszczynski A., Ladouceur R. & H.J. Shaffer (2004). A Science-Based Framework for Responsible Gambling: The Reno Model. Journal of Gambling Studies. 20 (3). 301 – 317. Linden R.M. (2010). Leading Across Boundaries: Creating Collaborative Agencies in a Networked World. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Mill, J.S. (1859 [1999]). On Liberty. Bartelby Com. NY, New York. Scanlon T.M. (1998). What we owe to each other. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Schellinck, T., T. Schrans & Focal Research Consultants Limited (2010). Evaluating the Impact of the “My-Play” System in Nova Scotia, Phase 1: Regular VL Player Benchmark Survey Technical Report”. Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation. Tolstoy L (1886 [1934]). What then must we do? (A. Maude & J. Adams Trans.). London: Oxford University Press. Recommended: Borrell J. (2008). The ‘Public Accountability Approach’: Suggestions for a Framework to Characterise, Compare, Inform and Evaluate Gambling Regulation. International Journal of Mental Health Addiction. 6: 265- 281.


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