There is an interesting exercise at Saskatchewan’s casinos this week.
They called it Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.
When I first saw the brochure, I thought it must have been a misprint, and indeed it may have been.
You see the word Gambling is not normally allowed in official publications, just as we’re not allowed to use the word failure in the school system.
The word that stands in for Gambling is Gaming.
Somehow the masters of public morals became convinced years ago that removing those two letters softens the impact of what goes on when people flush their paycheque or the rent money down the drain of a slot machine.
And what is meant by the word Responsible ? Well, we engage in little charades like keeping track of the license numbers of vehicles that enter the parking lot at a casino.
Problem gamblers who have ‘self identified’ to the powers that be, are not allowed to play if their license number turns up.
I’m not sure what happens if they walk or hitchhike to the casino. The Gaming or Gambling folks also offer tips on ‘budgeting your time’ and more importantly ‘budgeting your money’ if you think you might be a problem gambler.
To me, it’s not unlike the silly charades we go through with tobacco in Saskatchewan and many other provinces.
For years now, merchants who sell cigarettes must hide them away before closed cupboard doors.
Has it resulted in a dramatic drop in smoking? Not so you would notice.
The hard core smokers are not really deterred by such moves, and people who gamble a lot, are going to gamble a lot.
Should government be their hosts, as well as their tax collector? Smoking and gambling are legal. So’s drinking, as long as you keep your clothes on.
Describing such activities as Responsible is something like describing the killing of civilians in a bombing attack as collateral damage.
Some people are going to be harmed by these activities, and governments just have to live with that to feed their addictions to our money.
Roger Currie is a writer, broadcaster and blogger.
For the past seven months he was host Talk of the Town on Access channel 7.
He now lives in Winnipeg, but intends to visit Regina more often than just on Labour Day weekend.
He can be reached at email@example.com