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Gaming operators will spend at least $1 mil to address problem gambling.

The Bahamas Gaming Operators Associations (BGOA) will allocate roughly $1 million to address gambling addiction in the country, BGOA CEO Gershan Major said yesterday.

“In the 2018 budget, The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association allocated about $1 million toward beginning the initiative of promoting the wellness and education on responsible gaming and

specifically gambling addiction or addiction with gambling as a disorder,” Major said.

“Due to the challenging discussion around the tax matters that related to our industry, we had to refocus those allocations. Now that that matter is settled, we are now back to 2019 with the new budget being currently revisited, so I won’t be able to give you the specific number, but it’s going to be somewhere [around] that or a bit more.”

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said his ministry is working to address gambling addiction in The Bahamas.

However, he said the government “has not identified a specific line item [in its budget] for problem gambling”.

“Bear in mind that the government’s approach to this is supporting mental health services through Sandilands,” the minister said.

Compulsive gambling, also called problem gambling, is an uncontrollable urge to continue gambling despite of the toll it takes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Although it is not considered a mental disorder, compulsive gambling can be associated with disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Sands said the government is working with BGOA to establish a council that would address problem gambling in The Bahamas.

The minister said he was unable to give an update on how much progress had been made with the establishment of the council.

During his presentation at the opening of the “Problem Gambling and Addiction Awareness Month Seminar”, he said, “In charting a course for treatment and recovery of problem gambling in The Bahamas one such evidence-based practice worthy of examination by all stakeholders is the establishment of a jurisdictional council on problem gambling for The Bahamas.

“International councils or their comparable bodies already exist throughout the world, having strategic responsibility for problem gambling awareness prevention, treatment and recovery, research, along with policy development, designed to impact persons and their families affected by problem gambling.”

Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and BGOA will host a “Problem Gambling and Addiction Awareness Symposium” on October 31, 2019.