Responsible Gambling: A Guide for Canadian Gamblers

Whether you’re choosing to gamble through internet casinos, or land-based casinos, gambling can be a lot of fun. It is designed to take your mind off of the stresses of everyday life, while also (hopefully) making you a couple extra dollars along the way. Harmless, right? Not always. Sometimes gambling moves from the fun and entertaining, to something scarier, like an addiction.

Woman placing wedding ring in pile of chips

What exactly is a Gambling Addiction?

Like any addiction, a gambling addiction can be classified as a mental disorder. This is because when you look at a person with an addiction, they simply cannot control themselves. They are unable to limit their actions, even if they know it is hurting them or the people around them.

In the sense of a gambling addiction, it comes in many forms. Here, we are going to highlight the 3 that are the most prominent and that most addicted gamblers fall into:

The Problem Gambler

Perhaps the least extreme of the 3 we are going to mention, a problem gambler is often chasing losses, with a refusal to stop. Now most people who gamble, will often chase losses, but a problem gambler is different. They have no desire to stop at any point and will keep going far beyond their means.

The Compulsive Gambler

When it comes to the compulsive gambler, they have absolutely no control. They will often times not think of the consequences of their actions or the effects of gambling addiction on family. This could lead to the wagering of money they simply do not have. And constantly finding reasons to gamble where there isn’t any, even if it takes a toll on their life.

The Binge Gambler

Someone who is a binge gambler may not spend a lot of time gambling or thinking about gambling, but when they do, they go overboard. They are able to control the frequency in which they gamble, but cannot control themselves once they are in the game.

The Cause of a Gambling Addiction:

There is no singular factor that causes someone to become addicted to gambling. It can be something as simple as a player not having control of their behavior. They become addicted in a way they were not intending. Or it can be as complex as someone who struggles with addiction in other areas of their life. They are immediately vulnerable to addiction in other areas of their life.

This is why it is always important to be on the lookout for yourself, and for people in your life who may have a problem.

What to look for:

  • Everyday thoughts and activities are consumed by the thought of gambling and the next time to play.
  • Symptoms of withdrawal, annoyance and agitation occur when there is a cut back on gambling for whatever reason.
  • Gambling is clearly being used as a coping mechanism for the stresses and problems of life.
  • There seems to be no limit on the amount of money that will be spent on gambling and chasing losses.
  • Family and friends are kept in the dark to the point where they may not even realize there is a problem.
  • Participation in illegal activities in order to keep the addiction afloat.
  • There has been an effort to stop gambling in the past, but it failed.

Who can help?

RGC Banner for Gambling Addiction Support

Responsible Gaming Council (RGC):

A great resource we have here in Canada if you feel as though you or a loved one may have a problem, is the Responsible Gambling Council. Although they are Canadian based, they have a vision of a world free of problem gambling and gambling addiction. On their website, they have resources for both the public and the industry and regulators when it comes to safer, more responsible gambling practices. They even have information on how to gamble safer, who is at risk, gambling & young adults and a self-assessment quiz if you’re worried you may have problem.

Visit their website to have access to all of their resources.

Responsible Gambling Awareness Week:

There are a couple of provinces that have Responsible Gambling Awareness Week or similar events throughout the year. These are used to inform players on safer, more responsible gambling, while also allowing players to seek help and share stories. These are to support both land-based and online gambling addiction.

In Nova Scotia, Responsible Gambling Awareness Week takes place during the first week of October.

In Alberta, Responsible Gambling Awareness Week takes place during the second week in May.

In British Columbia, Responsible Gambling Awareness Month takes place from February-April.

If you believe you or someone in your life has a problem with gambling and addiction, please visit:  thelifelinecanada.ca

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