Are you experiencing problems with gambling?

Many people gamble. They buy lottery tickets, play casino games, bet on sports events or play online poker. Most people who gamble do so without a problem—but some people can’t.


What is Gambling?


Gambling is taking the chance of losing money or belongings, and when winning or losing is decided mostly by chance.


Quick Facts


  • Gambling is Canada’s largest entertainment industry—it is about the same size as movies, TV, recorded music and professional sports COMBINED. (Stats Canada)
  • 1 in 5 Pathological Gambler will attempt suicide
  • Over 80% of Ontario residents have gambled in the past year
  • Youth are 3x more likely than adults to develop gambling problem
  • More than 65% of Ontario’s youth participate in some form of gambling

What is problem gambling?


Problem gambling is not just losing money. Gambling problems can affect a person’s whole life.


Gambling may be a problem when it:


  • Gets in the way of work, school or other activities
  • Harms your mental or physical health
  • Hurts you financially
  • Damages your reputation
  • Causes problems with your family or friends.


Gambling concerns can range from mild to severe. Just like any other addiction there is a continuum of gambling, which range from no gambling—Pathological gambling.
Not all people who gamble excessively are alike, nor are the problems they face. People with gambling problems are found in all age groups, income groups, cultures and jobs. Some people develop gambling problems suddenly, other over many years. There are many reasons why a gambling problem may develop. For example, some people develop problems when the try to win back money they have lost, or because they like to be “in the action”. Others have many life stresses that make gambling a relief or escape.

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Risk Factors:


There are many risk factors for problem gambling.


  • You had a big win early in your gambling history
  • You have money problems
  • You have had a recent loss or change, such as relationship problems, divorce, job loss, retirement or the death or a loved one
  • You are gambling to cope with a health concern and/or physical pain
  • You often feel lonely
  • You have few interests and hobbies, or you feel your life lacks direction
  • You often feel bored
  • You use gambling, or substances to cope with bad feelings or events
  • You often feel depressed or anxious
  • You have been abused or traumatized
  • You have or had problems with substances or overspending
  • Someone in your family has had problems with gambling or substance use
  • You think you have a system or way of gambling that increases your odds of winning

So, how can you make gambling safer?


For those who choose to gamble, there are some general principles that can help to make gambling safer and reduce the risk of a problem.

Safer Gambling Tips


If you choose to gamble, follow these guidelines to limit the risk of a problem.

  • Set a money limit and stick to it
  • Set time limits and take frequent breaks
  • Don’t borrow money to gamble
  • Use money put aside for entertainment, not money for necessities like groceries, rent or bills
  • Balance gambling with other activities
  • Don’t try to win back what’s been lost
  • Don’t think of gambling as a way to make money
  • Limit alcohol consumption when gambling
  • Don’t gamble when upset, stressed or depressed