News release

Responsible VLT Gaming Initiative

The Nova Scotia Gaming Corp. is taking action with a new approach to the province's video lottery program focused on responsible play and addressing problem gaming.

The Gaming Corporation and its agent, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, today issued a request for proposals challenging VLT suppliers and manufacturers to take part in developing solutions to make the video lottery program more responsible. This initiative is believed to be the first of its kind in North America.

"We are concerned about the state of the video lottery program and related problem gambling," said corporation vice-chair Dara Gordon. "The status quo is not acceptable. There is a need to change the program."

A key part of the request for proposals involves replacing outdated machines with new, more flexible technology capable of incorporating recommendations from video lottery research currently under way. Some possible changes include introducing interactive games, entertaining and social games, cash-outs or timeouts, and play by dollars rather than credits.

Two experts in the field of problem gambling have been retained to guide the corporation in its new initiatives. They are Dr. Howard Shaffer from Harvard Medical School and Dr. Harold Wynne, president of Wynne Resources in Alberta.

"This is an important first step toward building a better program," said Ms. Gordon. "We need to have technology that encourages responsible play and addresses problem gambling."

Other initiatives are being considered, including education and training programs for VLT retailers and possible changes to the physical environment surrounding VLTs in establishments.

The deadline for responses to the request for proposals is February 1999. A test phase with an evaluation by the problem-gambling experts will precede any rollout of new technology.

"We recognize that improving the video lottery program comes with a cost," said Ms. Gordon. "It may mean less revenue for the province, but the corporation believes this approach is the right approach."

VLT retailers will share in the cost of the program with a reduction in retailer commissions to 25 per cent from 30 per cent. The reduction will be delayed until March 1999 to allow a reasonable transition period. Discussions have been continuing with key retailer groups over the past several months. Nova Scotia currently has the highest retailer rates in Atlantic Canada and the highest in the country outside Quebec.

The Department of Health today released a study profiling VLT players in Nova Scotia, as well as steps aimed at enhancing services currently offered to problem gamblers. The gaming corporation initiative will focus on reducing the extent of VLT problem gambling in the province and encouraging responsible play.

NOTE: The following is intended for use by broadcast media.

The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation is taking action with a new approach to the province's video lottery program.

The corporation has issued a request for proposals that challenges V-L-T suppliers and manufacturers to take part in developing solutions to make the V-L-T program more responsible.

A key part of the initiative involves replacing old machines with new technology capable of incorporating recommendations from some research currently under way.

Some possible changes include interactive games, social games, cash-outs or time outs, and play by dollars rather than credits.

Announcement of the initiative comes on the same day the Health Department released a study profiling V-L-T players in Nova Scotia.

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Contact:

Jennifer MacIsaac
Nova Scotia Gaming Corp. 902-424-2203
ngr                    Dec. 8, 1998                12:30 p.m.