Peter McKenna

  • Terminal Damage

    The Politics of VLTs in Atlantic Canada

    By Peter McKenna     April 2008

    “This book is assuredly not an anti-gambling screed. What I’m against, and make no doubt about it, is the scourge of the video lottery terminal (VLT), and the fact that not all gambling is created equal. There is a reason why those in the know refer to those electronic devices as ‘killer machines’ and the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.”–from the Introduction The Atlantic Lottery Corporation promotes its VLT product as a win-win for Atlantic Canada. “Even those who didn’t win a prize enjoyed a moment of fun with a chance to dream…” intones the corporation’s advertising. The truth is that financial stress, marriage break-up, physical and mental health issues, depression, alcohol dependency and suicide go hand-inhand with pathological gambling. In spite of this social scourge, governments turn a blind eye toward the social fallout from gambling. What they do have an eye for is the annual revenue figures derived from gambling. VLTs, by far the most addictive of all gambling activities, are also the biggest cash cow. This book examines why public policy action has been more symbolic than substantive and how VLTs have become increasingly politicized since the early 1990s. It is a clarion call to governments to take action.