#Nassau, November 1, 2018 – Bahamas – Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands said gambling has been a vice that persons have secretly indulged, and for that reason, unlike most of the public health challenges in The Bahamas, there is a lack of fundamental data that can be quantified and analysed to address the problem.
“I am very conscious that today’s workshop speaks to the need to increase our capacity as healthcare providers, social workers, law enforcement, educators, gaming industry professionals and as members of the general public to identify and address signs of problem gambling and gambling addiction,” Dr. Sands said at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre Gambling Addiction Symposium, held at the Church of God Auditorium, Joe Farrington Road, Wednesday, October 31, 2018.
He said the theme of this year’s symposium, “Overcoming Your Gambling Addiction: The Continuum of Care,” speaks to empowering persons at risk of problem gambling and providing care to those experiencing gambling addiction.
The Minister of Health said he would however be remiss if he did not call upon the mental health professionals, addiction care providers, social workers and others to conduct the kind of peer review research and documentation that would allow policymakers to arrive at decisions in the best interest of the nation.
He explained that the Pennsylvania Gaming Board notes that although gambling often goes unrecognized, it is a serious workplace issue with a negative impact on performance and productivity.
Dr. Sands said the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres, further notes that gambling not only gets in the way of work productivity but also harms a person’s mental and social health.
“In recognition of these challenges, beginning in January 2018, The Public Hospitals Authority and Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre set out to launch a program to achieve the overarching goal of integrating gambling addiction services into the present existing substance abuse program at Sandilands and at other healthcare services programs in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
He said, “It is my hope that this first Gambling Addiction Symposium hosted by the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, the Public Hospitals Authority, and the Bahamas Gaming Operators Association will begin a national dialogue that will continue to engage communities and families all across The Bahamas.”
Dr. Sands explained that the Gaming Act of 2014, which generally required that all Bahamians wager via the Internet, now permits the “numbers” game to be played in an over-the-counter, cash-based environment.
“The Act is a large and complex piece of legislation, but I believe that some change is warranted. Notably, the Act should include the provision to prevent and minimize harm from gambling, including problem gambling.
“From a public health perspective, I hope that an assessment will be undertaken of the gaming environment. This assessment should focus on better understanding the dynamics of the electronic numbers gaming sector, and the wider gambling environment as well, and what they mean for our current regulatory framework.
He said, “It is also clear to me that we need to restore greater public confidence in our gambling sector. Public trust will only be built by a demonstrable commitment to player protection and basing the industry on responsible gambling, not on those gambling to excess.”
By Llonella Gilbert
Photo Caption: Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands brings remarks at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre Gambling Addiction Symposium, held at the Church of God Auditorium, Joe Farrington Road, Wednesday, October 31, 2018.
(BIS Photos/Raymond A. Bethel Sr.)