Gambling, smoking and charity

I’m glad to be working for an organisation that has decided not to benefit financially from gambling. It’s a bad fit for an addiction treatment program–too many addicts and alcoholics develop gambling problems that are bad enough by themselves, but they often lead to relapse.

This was in today’s paper:

Some charities say their bingo winnings are going up in smoke.

Attendance and revenue at bingo parlors and charity card games fell about 25% in the most recent quarter, and some organizers blame the state’s smoking ban, which took effect May 1.

“It’s killing bars and restaurants,” said Duane Owens of, a company that manages poker rooms. “The revenue from poker is determined by how many people you get in your establishment. Less people means less players and less revenue.”

It’s also being felt by the charities — from Little League teams to marching bands to Lions Clubs — that sponsor the events. Statewide, charity gaming revenue for the third quarter of 2010 was $45.5 million, down from $61.8 million for the same quarter in 2009, according to figures from the Michigan Lottery.

I never thought about there being a relationship between gambling and smoking though it now seems obvious that there would be. If drug addiction (Tobacco, in this case.) and compulsive gambling share a common mechanism, and charity poker rooms have been disproportionately affected by the state smoking ban, this would hint that those poker tables have a lot of people who likely compulsive gamblers or are at elevated risk for becoming one.