NDP government kills gambling impact study
N.S. kills gambling study: consultant puzzled
By King’s Investigative Workshop
The CEO of a company contracted to conduct a gambling study is confused about why the province killed it last fall.
The former Tory government commissioned the report nearly three years ago to study the social and economic impacts of gambling. It was to put Nova Scotia in the forefront of gambling research in Canada and was a commitment of the 2005 gaming strategy. But last fall, the new NDP government rejected the findings, citing methodological errors.
“I’m just disappointed,” says Mark Anielski, CEO of Anielski Management Inc. “I would think we would at least have the opportunity to have it peer-reviewed. But we never had that opportunity.”
On top of the rejection, Anielski says the province only paid him for 60 per cent of the contract. In 2008, the government made a payment to Anielski Management Inc. for $122,209.
Marilyn More, the minister responsible for the study, says the company did not receive the last 40 per cent because the government rejected the end product.
“He’d be paid for each phase, but it’s at the stage now where it just doesn’t seem to be retrievable and that’s why it was cancelled and no further payment was made.”
Liberals push to make report public
Liberal gaming critic Leo Glavine is trying to make the report available to the public.
“I think some of the determinations, some of the conclusions and perhaps recommendations were not in line with the gaming corporation or where this government wants to go in revenue from VLTs,” he says.
“We will be in touch with this consulting company to see if there is anyway in which we can get the basic information.”
Karen Stone, spokesperson for the department of labour and workforce development, says the report’s findings cannot be revealed because of contractual agreements.
“We would not be getting a report that was going to be helpful for government, for industry, or for special interest groups in making informed decisions on this topic,” she says.
Still, Anielski says it’s discouraging that his company received little feedback on the study.
“They had provided no comments on our report,” he says. “So we actually had nothing to go on except that they just didn’t like what our report said.”
The study would have been the first of its kind in Canada. The province hired a consulting firm, Sterling Research Incorporated, to conduct a socioeconomic study in 1999, but Anielski says his report would have been the first to follow a national framework set out by the Genuine Progress Indicator. Anielski says he helped develop this framework and is familiar with the social and economic impacts of gambling.
Stone says there’s still interest in the topic, but the government has not made any plans for a future study.