Should Alberta have 24-hour slot machines?
EDMONTON -- Slot machines in Alberta casinos could soon be open 24 hours a day.
Casinos are currently allowed to run their slot machines from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., a maximum of 16 hours a day. Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis is exploring the idea of allowing them the option to operate day and night.
"AGLC has heard from both casino operators and consumers over the years who have expressed interest in this opportunity for expanded hours," AGLC said in an emailed statement.
The change would not apply to video lottery terminals (VLTs) in pubs and bars.
CTV News Edmonton's Dan Grummett spoke with some consumers at an Edmonton casino when the slot machines opened at 10 a.m.
"I don't think 24 hours is necessary," one player who wished to remain anonymous said. "It's open, what, 16 hours a day? I think that's enough time for people."
"There's enough gambling problems with people in this province already," another player said. "I think it's absolutely ridiculous."
There are concerns that eliminating gambling's version of "last call" could present more problems for chronic gamblers who already have trouble setting limits for themselves.
"It just means that there's no stop gap," registered psychologist Andrea McTague said. "It doesn't have to go into full blown addiction for it to be a problem behaviour."
McTague stressed that wellness strategies should be in place for players who are struggling, particularly if the hours are expanded.
"If you don't have the natural boundary mechanisms in place, then who's watching or who's helping create those," she asked.
AGLC says it is committed to responsible service, regardless of the casinos' hours of operation.
"Players will continue to have access to effective responsible gambling tools and resources that are in place at all Alberta casinos including GameSense Advisors and casino staff who are trained to identify patrons who may need assistance in managing their gambling behaviour," their statement reads.
The GameSense program is run by AGLC and is designed to help players make informed gambling decisions through education and support services.
Alberta Health Services has a 24-hour addiction helpline, 1-866-332-2322.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dan Grummett.