New VLTs have features to curb problem gambling

Alberta gaming officials say new VLT machines being installed across the province have safeguards to curb problem gambling. But one expert says they don't go far enough.
Opinions are mixed over whether safeguards on new VLTs can curb problem gambling 1:49

Alberta gaming officials say new VLT machines being installed across the province have safeguards to curb problem gambling but one expert says they don’t go far enough.

The new units ask users how long they would like to play and once the time is up, a message pops up asking if the game should continue. The VLTs will only accept a maximum of $100 at a time.

"It really breaks that cycle of play to take that pause and to take that moment to stop playing," said Michelle Hynes-Dawson from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

But one expert says the machines lack the stronger safeguards that allow users to set daily, weekly or monthly limits on how much they want to spend.

"The technology certainly exists that people can use some sort of card-based system that would enable their play," said University of Calgary psychology professor David Hodgins.

Installation of the 6,000 replacement machines will be complete by the summer, but some units are already operating in Edmonton.

Hynes-Dawson says the new VLTs replace units that were installed in 2004.