The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

3287.0: Monday, November 11, 2002 - Board 5

Abstract #39813

Gambling expansion in North America: A public health perspective

David A. Korn, Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, 12 Queen's Park Crescent West, 4th Floor, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada, (416) 978-8498, and Howard Shaffer, Harvard Medical School, Divison on Addictions, Harvard University, 350 Longwood Avenue, Suite 200, Boston, MA 02115.

During the last two decades of the 20th century, North America experienced a dramatic increase in legalized gambling. This growth emerged primarily because of governments' need to increase revenue without invoking additional taxation. Concern has been expressed about the potential impacts of expanded gambling on quality of life and burden of illness to individuals, families and communities. This paper analyzes gambling from a public health perspective and compares and contrasts the public health experience of tobacco and alcohol.

Public health has a tradition of addressing emerging and complex health matters that affect the population as well as specific subgroups. The value of a public health perspective is that it examines the broad impacts rather than focusing solely on problem and pathological gambling behavior in individuals. It takes into consideration the wider health, social and economic costs and benefits, and gives priority to the needs of vulnerable people.

The paper will examine the public health foundations of epidemiology, disease control and healthy public policy and apply these ideas to the gambling phenomenon. The determinants and distribution of gambling problems will be explored and major public health issues highlighted. A framework for public health action will be proposed based on health promotion, disease prevention and harm reduction principles. The paper will address personal responsibility as well as public accountability. By understanding gambling's potential impact on the public's health, policy makers, health practitioners and community leaders can frame a balanced strategy that minimizes gambling's negative impacts and optimizes its benefits.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this presentation the learner will be able to

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Poly-Drug Use: Multiple Problems, Multiple Challenges Poster Session

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA