Canadian Environmental Health Atlas

Understanding Our Environment is Key to Promoting Health and Preventing Disease

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VLT Accessibility

VLT Accessibility

Availability of Machines
The 1982 Criminal Code of Canada provides the legal framework for gambling in Canada. In 1985 an amendment to the code gave the provinces control of gambling and of legalized computer, video, and slot devices. New Brunswick was the first province to introduce VLTs in 1990. All provinces, with the exception of Ontario and British Columbia, followed suit, and throughout the 1990s the number of VLTs increased dramatically. There has been a steady increase of net revenue from government-run gambling operations since 1992 (Figure 1). After climbing substantially between 1990 and 2005, VLT revenues have since levelled off and declined slightly.

The first machines in New Brunswick were located in both licensed and unlicensed facilities, including corner stores and bowling alleys. However, since the mid-1990s all provinces have placed age-related restrictions on the locations of VLTs. Some provinces have also limited the number of VLTs. A few jurisdictions have held community consultations and referendums regarding the availability of VLTs. For example, in Alberta during the late 1990s, 39 municipalities held ballots on VLTs and 9 voted to have them removed from their communities.

VLT Accessibility by Province
As of 2009, an estimated 33,276 VLTs were operating in Canada. The number of machines and the number of sites where VLTs were located varied by province (Figure 2).1Manitoba had the most VLTs per person and Quebec had the least.

Gambling is often considered in the context of the individual’s behaviours and actions rather than in the larger context of the physical and social environment. An environment that provides easy access to gambling is going to change the choices made by individuals.2While VLTs do not cause problem gambling, easy access to VLTs does influence gambling behaviour.