Who Am I ?





Sol Boxenbaum born ca. 1940, Radio Host CJAD, Gambling Critic

Sol Boxenbaum, Chief Executive Officer, President, and co-founder of Viva Consulting Family Life Inc., has an extensive background in addressing issues of problem gambling and its detrimental effect on society. As a crusader for harm-reduction policies and strategies concerning gambling, he is known and respected by experts throughout the world. He is considered one of the principal consumer advocates in Quebec and in Canada on issues concerning the dangers of rapid expansion of legalized gambling. Because of his recognized knowledge and expertise on the subject, coupled with his self-admitted dogged persistence in pursuing public interests, his advice and opinions are sought after by all levels of the government, professionals in the field, the media, and the general public.

Although he holds no academic degrees in this field, Sol Boxenbaum has been studying the cause and effect of problem gambling for more than a decade. In 1995, events in his own life lead him to develop an interest in tracing the origin of gambling addiction, and a desire to develop prevention strategies that might alert the public to the inherent dangers of legalized gambling. Having reached the age of 55 at that time, however, he was reluctant to commence University courses, such as Psychology 101, that might ultimately lead to him achieving accreditation.

Instead, in order to learn as much as possible within a limited time frame, he began to attend Gambling and Risk-Taking Conferences across Canada. At these conferences he met the most learned psychologists and researchers of the time, experts who were lecturing on the various aspects of gambling addiction and the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction. As a result of these efforts, he developed a network of contacts world-wide, meeting many highly qualified professionals who were willing to share their knowledge with him. In 1997, he himself was invited to the 10th International Conference as a presenter. By 1998, he was already receiving letters of reference from colleagues with PhDs in psychology and credentials in addiction counseling, attesting to his expertise in this field.

In 1995, while living in Saskatchewan, Sol established the Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling (Sask.) Inc. His vision for the Foundation included educating the public by providing information on the dangers of excessive gambling, while at the same time facilitating the development of appropriate resources to identify and treat those affected by problem gambling or compulsive gambling.

As Executive Director of the Foundation, Sol worked closely with Saskatchewan Health, Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, and Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. He also sat on Regional Committees throughout the province, to discuss local issues and problems that were a result of the individual demographics of each area, to ensure that the needs of all of the population were being met. He also attended numerous workshops and symposiums across Canada, both as participant and presenter.

He was responsible for staff training courses to develop problem gambling awareness and knowledge of intervention techniques. During his tenure as Executive Director, Sol trained more than five hundred employees at Casino Regina. He also trained fifty executives and field employees of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, the provincial body responsible for gambling in places where liquor is served.

Having returned to his home province of Quebec, Sol continued to maintain his contacts with the foremost experts on compulsive gambling in North America and abroad. Realizing that the problems associated with government-endorsed gambling were increasing across North America, in 1999 he welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Brenda Thomas (psychotherapist) in the foundation of Viva Consulting, a Quebec-based company dedicated to issues of problem gambling. In 2002 the company was federally incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under the name Viva Consulting Family Life Inc.

As CEO of Viva Consulting, Sol was invited, along with experts from McGill University and Université de Laval, to appear before a commission at the Quebec National Assembly to discuss the effect of gambling on adolescents (December 1999). This Commission resulted in the passing of a new law (Bill 84) prohibiting the sale of lottery tickets to minors in Quebec.

As consumer advocate with Viva Consulting Family Life Inc., Sol is constantly called upon for his opinions on breaking news in the gambling field. He has been a guest on many radio and television shows, including not only the local stations but also CBC (radio and TV, both French and English stations), and BBC. He has been interviewed for articles in many magazines, including MacLean’s. In addition to the many daily news programs he is regularly called upon to participate in, Sol has also taken part in many radio talk shows, such as Don Hill’s “Wild Rose Forum” (Alberta), Mark Elliot’s “People Helping People” (Ontario), and “The John Rossy Show” (Montreal). As well, he has submitted articles to Toronto Globe and Mail and Ottawa Citizen as a freelance writer.

Sol continues to strive to bring to the attention of both the general public and the government the issues created when gambling is allowed to become a problem. His name and his voice have become an anticipated feature of almost every media article (broadcast or printed) when the issue is gambling.

One highlight of his career was when he was invited to speak at the International Problem Gambling Conference in Nova Scotia (Oct. 2004), where Ralph Nader and Maude Barlow were keynote speakers. A second highlight was being invited to be the keynote speaker Nova Scotia Provincial Volunteer Workshop (“Strength in Community” in Nova Scotia (Oct. 2005).

Each day Sol receives countless phone calls and e-mails from the media for direct and up-to-date responses on current issues. He receives requests for professional consultations from individuals and organizations throughout the world, both on immediate news items and discussions of theory. He is frequently sought after by those doing research for documentaries, tv programs, theatre presentations, and books, as well as post-secondary students whose projects address issues of problem gambling. He has also involved himself several times in helping individuals in need of legal assistance. In addition to all of this, he has given educational presentations to students both at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

Sol makes it a point to respond personally to calls from the problem gamblers who call when they are in crisis. Many of these are referred to Viva Consulting Family Life Inc. from the government sponsored Problem Gambling HelpLine. He listens, consoles, and advises them at the time. If they follow through on his offer of an immediate follow-up appointment, he conducts the initial intake interview, and spends time explaining and demonstrating how electronic gambling machines work. He then arranges to see them further to discuss direct gambling issues, or arranges an appointment for them to meet with a professional to deal with underlying issues.

Sol continues to strive actively to bring to the attention of the government and to the attention of the general public all of the problems created when the Government is the owner, operator and regulator of the gambling industry. To this end, he has been in contact with many different ministries, both at the Municipal, Provincial, and Federal levels.

Sol was invited to become a charter member of a Citizens’ Coalition called EMJEU, a group of individuals deeply concerned about the devastating effects of the government’s expansion and encouragement of gambling. In May, 2004, they announced their intention to “encourage the government and Loto-Quebec to adopt a more ethical and responsible position in the management of gambling”. Sol became the English spokesperson for this bilingual organization.

He was recently involved in a coalition that stopped the movement of the Montreal Casino from its present location to downtown Montreal. He continues to speak out actively, and articulately, on issues brought to the attention of the media. He is also currently involved in several projects dealing with other social injustices in Canada.

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