News of an interesting study caught my eye today. The CBC headline was "Ontario teenagers gambling as early as age 15: survey." The study was released by the Responsible Gambling Council. Now something about the name of that organization made me uncomfortable, so I had a closer look. Their website says:
The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent, non-profit organization exclusively focused on problem gambling prevention. Through research, the Council seeks to better understand problem gambling and ways to reduce the risks. Through information, the Council shares this knowledge. Through its awareness programs, the Council provides people with the tools to make informed choices and offers resources for those affected by problem gambling.But where does their funding come from?
The Ontario government commits two per cent of annual slot revenue from both charity casinos and racetracks to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Ministry of Health Promotion for research, prevention and treatment of problem gambling.And their Board of Directors?
RGC is funded through the Ministry of Health Promotion. We work closely with other research and prevention organizations, as well as with agencies in Ontario that provide problem gambling treatment services.
Tim Hurson ChairI guess I'm left wondering whether the membership of an organization's board of directors has any bearing on its independence.
Tim Hurson Enterprises
Larry Moodie Treasurer and Chair, Finance Committee
Wendy Rinella Chair, Strategic Directions Committee
Director, Government Relations
First Canadian Title
George Sweny Secretary
Senior Vice President, Lotteries
Ontario Lottery and Gaming
Lisa Root Chair, Nominating Committee
Problem Gambling Program
Niagara Alcohol & Drug Assessment Service
Dr. Colin Campbell Member
Dept. of Criminology
Terry Finn Member
Senior Account Manager
The Computer Media Group
Jane Holmes Member
VP Corporate Affairs
Woodbine Entertainment Group
Michael D. Lipton, Q.C. Member
Lawyer (legal counsel)
Elkind, Lipton & Jacobs
Marie Mullally Member
Nova Scotia Gaming
Susan Olynik Member
Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs
Manitoba Lotteries Corporation
Honourable Justice Reid Scott Member
Howard Shearer Member
Hitachi (Canada) Ltd.
Aubrey Zidenberg Member
Casino Amusements Canada
Susan (Vincent) Butler Member
Past Executive Director
Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline
Update 28-Jan-2007: The full report is available in PDF: Teen Gambling in Ontario: Behaviours and Perceptions Among 15 to 17 Year Olds.
From the report's Conclusions:
Gambling among 15-17 year-olds in Ontario appears to be quite pervasive, both in terms of its frequency and mentality. However, based on the results of the present survey, it appears that only a small proportion of youth gamblers (3.9%) can be classified as problem gamblers according to a standardized measure.From the report's Methodology section:
In November 2006, the RGC commissioned Youthography, an organization that specializes in youthbased research, to administer a survey on gambling to youth 15-17 years of age in Ontario. Youthography randomly e-mailed 13,369 individuals in its database who fit this profile an invitation to complete the survey. (Individuals in this database had previously consented to receive notice for online survey research participation.) As an incentive, potential participants were told that their names would be entered into a cash draw for $1,000.Um ... 16%? As far as I can see, the report doesn't mention bias (except in connection with telephone surveys in one footnote), nor does it mention non-reponse.
Of those individuals randomly selected to participate in the survey, 2,836 both opened the e-mail and clicked on the survey link; 2,140 then completed the survey. The absolute response rate was 16%, quite high for online surveys where the typical response rate is 3-5%.