It seems that the government of Nova Scotia has dissolved a non-profit organization that was dedicated to funding gambling prevention. It also aimed to fund money to research groups to help with problem gambling. The Nova Scotia government has done that quietly, and it seeks to move the money to a general mental pool. That organization is GANS (Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia). Such a decision received many criticisms from the Canadian Gambling community group, which received funds and grants via the organizations. They stated that there is now uncertainty regarding the support of their work after this point.
The Gambling Risk-Informed Group Comments on Dissolving the GANS
The chair of the group, Bruce Dienes, stated that during these challenging times is when we need community awareness work and prevention work. The Gambling Risk-Informed Group aims to reduce the gambling harm to the community, and this is the time when players are the most vulnerable.
A part of the money funding for GANS was from a percentage of VLT revenues. The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation then matched that percentage. Nova Scotia's province stated that VLT retailers provide around $250k per year to support addiction and mental health services. The Nova Scotia government didn't reveal when it discovered the organization. On the other hand, Dienes from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation stated that he knew about it in the fall. It is when the GANS regulation went through some changes in October.
He added that the Dept. of Health stated that there is new info that helped it make that decision. Such information showed that there are comorbidities with harmful gambling. They include anxiety and depression. Such information justified the sharing of the funds on a broader scale. On the other hand, he believes that claiming that it is new information is ridiculous, and it has been known for years. Bruce Dienes believes that GANS's closure is the government's way to deal with the terrible lack of funding for mental health in the Canadian province.
Nova Scotia Comments on the Issue
Marla MacInnis, a spokesperson from the Nova Scotia government, confirmed that the budget from the GANS would be a part of the more expansive addition and mental health budget. That budget is worth around $300 million per year. She also cited a few changes that happened in the last two years regarding gambling and how they will support it. She added that gambling problems usually occur hand-in-hand with addiction and mental health problems. Due to the gambling stigma associated with it, people typically seek help for the other issues, avoiding gambling. She believes it is best if problem gamblers can access and find support for all of their issues simultaneously.