Understanding and Identifying Problem Gambling

Most people can actively enjoy the thrill of online gambling without any problems occurring, but for about 3.2%* of the adult population in Canada, gambling can pose a risk. Like chocolate, exercise, Facebook and video games, too much of a good thing can lead you down the wrong path when the circumstances are just right.

The vast majority of people who are ready to spin and win on slots or ante up on the green felt have absolutely nothing to worry about, but some may need to gamble with caution. Just as you take the time to learn about casino online games and their odds, it will help to stay informed about problem gambling, its signs and how you can prevent yourself from strolling down that weary path.

A Bigger Picture of Problem Gambling

Bigger Picture

Gambling is seen as a past time in not only Canada, but China, France, Hong Kong, Australia and The U.K. The rates of problem gambling vary from 0.2% in Norway to 2% in The U.K. In the United States, it affects around 1-2% of gamblers. These numbers are actually not that big. In the grand scheme of things more people have a problem with alcohol, nicotine and sugar. To add to this, many experts suggest that nearly all problem gamblers are struggling with co-occurring disorders like depression. It would be ideal to help anyone in this situation and promote the current statistics to drop below the 1% mark.

What the Experts Say

For problem gambling to become virtually nonexistent the industry as a whole needs to pull together and combat the issue. With this in mind, we've outlined some of the things you need to look out for when you're thinking about problem gambling.

Using the help of the Harvard Medical School, serious problem gambling can be defined using the following criteria:

  • Preoccupation with past, present, and future gambling experiences and with ways to obtain money for gambling.
  • Need to increase the amount of wagers.
  • Repeated unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop.
  • Becoming restless or irritable when trying to cut back or stop.
  • Gambling to escape from everyday problems or to relieve feelings of helplessness, anxiety, or depression.
  • Trying to recoup immediately after losing money (chasing losses).
  • Lying about gambling.
  • Committing illegal acts to finance gambling.
  • Losing or jeopardizing a personal relationship, job, or career opportunity because of gambling.
  • Requesting gifts or loans to pay gambling debts.

Taking these points and condensing them into a single definition, problem gambling is essentially when you have a desire to control something (i.e. the outcome of a roulette spin or blackjack deal) that's uncontrollable.

This need to control casino online games (which obviously can't be controlled) then leads to disappointment, anger and adrenaline when you start playing. Eventually, this cocktail of emotions leads to a craving that you can't ignore which then, in turn, leads to players anteing up and spending more than they can afford.

Problem Gambling: The Signs

While Harvard's definition of gambling addiction is a great starting point to untangling the issue, it's also important to look at some of the real life factors that characterise the problem. These common traits only touch base on the problem and are very general. If you or someone you know can identify these traits, you will be able to seek out help or advice before things could spiral down.

How to Prevent Problem Gambling

Just as you would make an effort to fix a problem at work or at home, problem gambling can be addressed and things can get better. Whether you feel like you may have a problem, or know someone who may need some advice, here are some basic tips to get you started on addressing the problem.

Be Open to Talk About a Problem to Another Person

Be Open to Talk

If you've read through this page and feel like you do have a problem with gambling, you may want to consider reaching out to another human being. Whether it's a family member, friend, anonymous internet user or counsellor, there are people who will listen without judging you.

Open up about what you're going through and how you're feeling. Ask them for advice or feedback and tell them you appreciate their support. If you can do this, even if the problem is still in the beginning stages, you will be on your way to healthier coping strategies. And remember, stay positive.

Getting Help for Problem Gambling in Canada

If you feel like talking to someone in Canada who can relate to what you're going through, there is a large support network of people overcoming problem gambling, or who are specialists with a deep understanding of the issue. Some of these support groups include:

Gamblers Anonymous - A free, completely anonymous group found throughout Canada.

Problem Gambling CA - Based in Ontario, this institute has set up a 24 hour hotline to talk to you about your situation and availability to get help.

If you would like further assistance or information on problem gambling, please contact the above groups or professional medical personal.

* Reference for statistic stating 3.2% of the adult population in Canada are affected by problem gambling.