Gambling is a safe and enjoyable activity for most bettors, but for some, it can lead to addiction and other problems. It’s therefore important to be able to recognize the signs of problem gaming and how you can keep an eye on these. Read on to find out how you can help yourself and others from becoming a problem gambler, and which resources are available for further information and help.
Responsible Gaming in Canada
Why is Responsible Gaming important?
What are the signs of problem gaming?
Problem gaming can take on many forms, each of which are different. Examples of problem gaming include:
Compulsive gaming: This occurs when you feel a constant need to bet or gamble and perhaps struggle to think about anything else. Compulsive gamers spend a large portion of their time gambling, often negatively affecting their career, social life and relationships.
Anti-social gaming: Anti-social gamers make impulsive decisions while gambling without considering the effects they may have on both them and the people they know. Those who partake in anti-social gaming are more likely to be vulnerable to addiction.
Binge gaming: If you find yourself struggling to stop betting once you have started, this is a sign of binge gaming. Binge gaming often strikes when a bettor is attempting to recoup their losses.
Relief/escapism gaming: This occurs when you rely on gambling as a way to deal with or escape your emotions. Relief gamers will often use gambling to try and improve their mood if they are feeling depressed, upset, or lonely.
Excess gaming: Excess gamers intentionally stake large amounts of money in an attempt to get an added thrill from gambling. They are at particular risk of enduring financial problems as a result of problem gaming.
How to help a problem gambler
If you feel that someone you know has become a problem gambler, then you should speak to them about this and encourage them to get help. Always approach the topic with support and concern as opposed to judgement and anger.
Explain to them in detail what signs of problem gaming you feel they have been exhibiting, especially if they disagree that their gambling has become a problem. If you suspect the person is being dishonest about the extent of their problem to you, don’t forget that you can still recommend them to visit the resources below.
Problem gaming helplines and resources
Canadian Partnership for Responsible Gaming: The CPRG is a collaboration of non-profit organizations, gaming providers, research centres and regulators who work to find and promote effective ways to reduce the risk of problem gambling.
Responsible Gambling Council: The leading source of assistance in Canada for problem gambling prevention and help for people suffering with gambling addiction.
iGaming Ontario: iGaming Ontario oversees gambling in Canada’s most populous province Ontario and has a strong focus on responsible gambling.
Gamblers Anonymous: This is a fellowship who share their experience, strength and hope in order to help others overcome and recover from a gambling problem.
ConnexOntario: ConnexOntario is a free and confidential helpline that is available 24/7 and in 170 languages. They help those struggling with mental health issues, including gambling addiction.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: An organization dedicated to offering a wealth of self-help tools to combat gambling addiction and promote responsible gambling.
Responsible Gaming tools
This is a useful tool to check exactly how much money you have won or lost from your gambling. You should use profit and loss trackers to monitor how much money you’re spending on your gambling, especially if you feel that this may be significantly increasing.
If you’re worried that you may lose track of how much money you’re gambling while you’re doing it, you can request that a sportsbook imposes a reality check on your account. This will notify you that you have bet a pre-determined amount during a gambling session.
When you’re concerned that you’re losing too much money as a result of your gambling, you can add a deposit limit to your account. This prevents you from depositing any money over a specified limit within a certain timeframe, e.g. $20 a week.
If you feel your gambling is getting out of control, sportsbooks offer a self-exclusion tool whereby you can prevent yourself from using their services to gamble for a specified or indefinite amount of time. This often proves useful if you’re attempting to stop gambling altogether.
You can request to have a cool-off period from a sportsbook so that they prevent you from using their services for a specified period of time (this is often shorter than using the self-exclusion tool). This may prove useful if you feel you would benefit from a temporary break from gambling.
How old do you need to be to gamble in Canada?
The legal age for gambling is either 18 or 19, depending on which province you live in. In Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, the minimum age to gamble is 18. In the other seven provinces, including British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, you must be at least 19 to gamble.