A prospective study of the impact of opening a casino on gambling behaviours: 2- and 4-year follow-ups

Abstract

Objective: It is widely believed that the rate of pathological gambling is related to the accessibility and availability of gambling activities. Few empirical studies have yet been conducted to evaluate this hypothesis. Using a longitudinal prospective design, the current study evaluates the impact of a casino in Canada's Hull, Quebec region. Method: A random sample of respondents from Hull (experimental group) and from Quebec City (comparison group) completed the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) and gambling- related questions before the opening of the Hull Casino (pretest), 1 year after the opening (posttest), and on follow-up at Years 2 and 4. Results: Although, 1 year after the opening of the casino, we did observe an increase in playing casino games and in the maximum amount of money lost in 1 day's gambling, this trend was not maintained over time (2- and 4-year follow-ups). In the Hull cohort, the rate of at-risk and probable pathological gamblers and the number of criteria on the SOGS did not increase at the 2- and 4-year follow-ups. The residents' reluctance to open a local casino was generally stable over time following the casino's opening. Conclusion: The discussion raises different explanatory factors and focuses on the context of the Regional Exposure Model as a potentially more applicable measure of studying the expansion of gambling.

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