Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sorry, Wrong Numbers

Why did they shut down the child abuse hotline in Iran? Because it was getting too many how-to calls!

The 1-800 hotline established to help Ontario's addicted gamblers is being inundated with thousands of calls from people looking for winning lottery numbers, prompting the government to rethink the way it advertises the telephone number.

Figures obtained by the Citizen show that the number of "misdirected" phone calls to Ontario's Problem Gambling Helpline has skyrocketed since its inception in 1997, going from zero that year to 13,024 (of 17,808 total) last year.

"By far, most of those calls are people looking for winning lottery numbers," said Brad Davey, executive director of ConnexOntario, the non-profit government agency that runs the helpline. "Or sometimes it's hours of casinos or things like that. It's usually related to gambling, but (the callers are) on the 'I'm gambling' side rather than the 'I think I have a problem with gambling.' Those are the misdirected ones."


"It's a common issue with problem gambling helplines," he said, adding he views the misdirected calls as a "marketing opportunity."

"Many times when the person has called in looking for the winning numbers and our operators explain what it is we do, the person then says, 'Well, I am concerned with the number of tickets I'm buying every week,' " he said.

I remain rather sceptical about the claim that excessive gambling can be considered an addiction, akin to alcoholism or narcotic abuse. To my knowledge, there is no interaction of chemicals that alters the proper functioning of the body and brain when you plunk down hundreds of dollars on the roulette wheel or down the slot machine; just sheer, simple, ordinary human greed.

And if they steal to gamble, that should make them more culpable, not less.

Their moral senses don't cease to operate; they just ignore them.

But there's no 12-step program to restore a dulled conscience.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

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