With the recent increase in marketing and availability of online gambling in Ontario, opportunities for gambling are more accessible than ever.
While gambling is a recreational activity for most, it can also develop into a problem for some.
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, an annual event to increase public awareness of problem gambling and related prevention, treatment and recovery services. Given the increasing prevalence and access to gambling in recent months – particularly sports betting – it’s important to understand when this activity can turn from recreational to problematic, and to take steps to minimize potential harms.
Did you know:
- Gambling problems can impact anyone from any age group, social strata, gender or race.
- Gambling problems can happen quickly, or increase over a period of time. Typically, financial challenges are the first sign of a problem.
- Recreational gambling can start as young as eight and can become problematic at any age.
- Gambling can be passive, such as lottery tickets and slot machines, or more skill-based, such as sports betting and poker.
- Most people gamble with money, but anything of value can be gambled, like valuables or personal property.
- Your brain can become dependent on gambling similar to how it can be dependent on a substance.
- According to Statistics Canada, around two per cent of Canadians who gamble have a moderate-to-severe risk of problems related to gambling. That’s more than 300,000 Canadians.
To help Canadians make informed decisions about gambling, The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) offers lower-risk gambling guidelines, which advise to:
- Gamble no more than one per cent of household income before tax per month
- Gamble no more than four days per month
- Avoid regularly gambling at more than two types of games
CCSA also has a risk assessment tool that individuals can use to see if they gamble within these guidelines.
If you are concerned about gambling for yourself or a loved one, reach out to our Mental Health First Response Team, available 24/7.
- Chatham-Kent: 1-866-299-7447
- Sarnia-Lambton: 1-800-307-4319
For more information on gambling, including risk factors, strategies to engage in responsible gambling, and how to get help and resources, visit ontario.cmha.ca/gambling.