Safe Gambling Guide for Adult Canadians
Safe Gambling Guide for Adult Canadians
As a Canadian, you are able to gamble legally in a casino, online, or in a lottery once you turn 18 or 19 (depending on the providence or territory you are in). Legal access to this fun and exciting pastime is one of the great rights that Canadian citizens and visitors enjoy.
With this right comes responsibility though. While most people have no problem gambling in a safe, controlled manner, some people can develop a problem with gambling. It is up to all Canadians who enjoy gambling to do it safely and responsibly and help make sure others are doing it the same.
To ensure that gambling stays a safe and enjoyable activity for you and people you know, we are here to offer a few tips on how Canadian gamblers can practice safe gambling habits. In addition to these tips, we will also share how to recognize the signs that you or someone you know may have a gambling problem and resources for Canadians who need help for themselves or others with problem gambling. Here is your safe gambling guide for adult Canadians.
Tips for Canadian Gamblers for Safe Gambling Habits
Luckily, the vast majority of gamblers can gamble responsibly without having an issue. Studies show that only about 6% of all Canadian gamblers are problem gamblers. This translates to roughly 0.6% of the entire Canadian population. While these numbers seem low, they are still entirely too high for any person or family struggling with gambling addiction.
For people who know that they have a problem with gambling, abstaining from the practice is probably the best remedy. For others, taking a few steps to ensure that gambling doesn’t turn into an issue is enough and will help you enjoy responsible gambling for what it should be; an exciting form of entertainment.
To help gamblers stay responsible about their gambling habits, there are a few best practices to follow when you gamble. If you find yourself not being able to adhere to these ideals, you may have a gambling problem and should seek help. Here are eight tips for Canadian Gamblers for safe gambling habits.
Gambling should be for entertainment
Gambling can and should be a lot of fun. It is a recreational activity that is enjoyed on a regular basis by people around the world and right here in Canada. These people look at gambling as a form of entertainment. What players should not consider gambling to be is a primary form of making money or a career.
Yes, there are professional gamblers but this is an incredibly difficult way to make a living. These pro gamblers are very much in control of their gambling and are able to take calculated risks while still practicing many of the practices below. They also don’t make a killing every time they sit down at a table. Even the most successful professional gambler only wins about 55% to 58% of the time.
The healthiest way to look at gambling is like any other form of entertainment. You wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) spend your life savings to go to a concert, see a movie, or attend a sporting event. If you can afford to spend the price of the ticket to these entertainment events, you will happily spend it though and enjoy your time.
Think of gambling the same way. Whatever amount of money you plan on gambling should be considered a sunk cost for a few hours of entertainment. If you think about it this way, you can enjoy the experience of gambling for what it is and happily return to it next time you have some disposable income and want to have a good time.
The added bonus with gambling is that there is a chance that you will occasionally walk away with money and that is a very nice feeling. You won’t get that at a show or a ballgame. As long as you aren’t depending on winning money every time, you should be able to maintain a healthy relationship with gambling.
Set limits for yourself
There is an age-old saying in gambling, “the house always wins”. This means that the casino will always take more money from players than it will pay over time. This is because of what is called the “house edge”. All casino games, from blackjack to roulette to slots games, have a built in odds advantage that favors the casino. This means that the longer you play, the worse your chances get of walking away with more money than you started with.
This is not to say that you are guaranteed to lose every time you play at a land-based or online casino. The house advantage will ultimately play out over time but if you play in short bursts, gamblers can absolutely win money from the house. This is why it is important to set strict money and time limits for your play. This will not only help limit the amount of money you can lose to keep it within your affordable range but also increase your chances of walking away a winner.
As mentioned above, the amount you are willing to lose should correspond to the amount that you can affordably spend on an evening of entertainment. This number is different for everyone depending on your financial situation. Some people may find themselves in a tough spot if they lose $100. Others may able to comfortably lose $1,000s without it being a problem. You should have a good grasp on your financial situation before setting your limits prior to gambling.
The last, and often hardest, the thing to do when you set self-imposed money and time limits is sticking to them in the moment. This, however, is the most important part. There may always seem like a good reason to wager just a few more dollars or stay at the table or machine or computer for just another 15-minutes but this defeats the point of limits. Again remember, the stricter you are about your limits the less likely you are to lose too much and the more likely you are to come away a winner.
Only gamble with your own money
This is closely related to setting money limits while at the table and seeing gambling as entertainment but speaks to an overall philosophy of gambling that helps keep people safe. Every gambler’s rule should be, never to gamble with other people’s money.
If you have money that you can easily afford to spend and possibly lose, it is well within your rights to use that money on gambling. If you need to borrow money from somewhere to gamble with, that is where many people get into trouble. The issue with using money that isn’t yours to gamble is that you will eventually have to pay it back. If you lose it, this could be a big problem.
Gambling with other people’s money includes both borrowing money from friends, family, or acquaintances or racking up personal debt to gamble. This can happen when you use a credit card to bankroll your betting. This unadvisable practice is more common in online casinos than it is in land-based ones. If you don’t have the cash on hand to possibly lose, you shouldn’t be betting.
Of course, we are talking about borrowing real money from a person, financial institution, or a casino. There are all types of promotions and bonuses that casinos will provide people that are like getting free money but aren’t actually borrowing. Using these bonuses is absolutely fine and even encouraged for responsible gamblers.
Don’t gamble when you are feeling poorly
When you are upset, stressed, or even depressed, you shouldn’t gamble. Like many addictions, people often turn to gambling when they have these negative feelings in order to make themselves feel better. The problem is, when you turn to addictive behavior when you are feeling bad, it very often leads to even more of these feelings.
Once again, healthy gambling should be a fun and exciting entertainment activity for you. It is not the cure to feeling down or an escape from your problems. Feeling upset when you are gambling can lead to taking more risks, making poor decisions, and not adhering to your time and money limits. If you gamble to feel better about your problems, there is a good chance you can compound those problems.
Avoid mind-altering substances when gambling
Gambling is an activity where the most successful gamblers use their instincts to take calculated risks in a split-second. Yes, casino games are games of chance but that chance can be mitigated but making smart decisions. If you drink too much alcohol or partake in other mind-altering substances while gambling, it can seriously hurt your decision-making skills.
Drugs and alcohol also can make you more prone to take wild risks and not worry about the consequences. These are two things that good gamblers never do. Gambling is about calculated risks and being in control at all times. Whether you are winning or losing, your self-control has to be the same, and drugs and alcohol can stop that from happening.
These substances can also be used to escape when you feel like you are in a bad situation and many people use them to avoid the issues they face when being a problem gambler. This is a bad deal as well. Drinking in very moderate amounts can add to your good time when gambling and is fine for many people. To be at the top of your game though, you want to be as clear-headed as possible.
Don’t increase your betting to make up for the money you lost.
Losing money when gambling is no fun. The game can be fun and the experience can be fun but no one likes losing money. There is a temptation when you are losing to try and make up for those losses to get back in the black or at least back to even. To do this, people will often increase their bets significantly.
The reasoning behind this is somewhat understandable. If you lose $25 and bet $50 on the next round of betting, you can get right back to where you were before the loss. However, gambling can be a game of runs. While you may win many rounds in a row at times, it is just as easy to lose a few consecutive rounds as well. Getting involved in this kind of exponential betting can get you in trouble very quickly.
That $25 bet can go from $50 to $100 to $200 to $400 real quick. All of the sudden, you can find yourself in a huge hole (a $775 hole in this specific example). This is not a good strategy for bettors. There are a lot of different betting strategies that you can implement and the best gamblers use these strategies to their advantage. None of these strategies involve chasing losses with increasingly big bets.
Gamble in moderation
Doing anything in moderation is a major key to keeping it a healthy activity and stopping it from becoming a problem. This applies to so many things such as alcohol, food, exercise, and even relationships in some cases. Moderation and balance are two terms that apply to gambling in a big way.
Finding balance in your life is important on many levels. This isn’t some kind of existential lecture but experts from all walks agree that balance is an important life concept. Everyone needs some level of work, relationships, fun, learning, and more in their lives. If gambling is a healthy and moderate part of your fun, you are probably doing pretty well.
It is when gambling (or anything else) becomes all-consuming that people start to have problems. When one aspect of your life takes over, all the other areas will suffer. If gambling is all you think about, stress about, want to do, and do, you will undoubtedly experience problems elsewhere.
If you find your gambling getting out of balance with the rest of your life, you may need to take a break or, at the very least, set limits for yourself. If you can cut down on the amount of time you gamble and the amount of time that gambling consumes you, there will be less of a chance that it becomes a problem in your life.
Educate yourself about problem gambling
There is a saying that goes, “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. The sentiment of this old cliché can be applied to problem gambling in a big way. If you don’t learn what problem gambling is, what it looks like, and the steps you can take to help avoid it, the chances that you develop a problem may go up.
Reading this piece is a good first step. We have laid out a lot of the basics that you need to know. The tips to become, stay, or get back to being a healthy gambler that we give here should help give you a good understanding of how to gamble in a healthy way.
The sections that come after this should help too. We will continue by giving you some symptoms and signals to look for in yourself or others who may be problem gamblers and talk about how this issue may manifest itself in someone’s life. Also, we will give Canadians some resources you can use if you think there is a problem somewhere in your life.
Knowing as much as you can about gambling addiction will help you recognize it and combat it in yourself and others. If you are reading this and you think you or someone else close to you has a problem, you may want to do even more research on the topic. This is one of the many cases in life where the more you know, the better off you will be.
How Canadians Can Spot if They or Someone They Know Have a Gambling Problem
If you think you or someone you know may have a problem with gambling and gambling addiction, it is important you keep your eyes open for the signs. There are several signs that someone may have an issue with gambling and knowing the signs is the first step towards understanding if someone has a problem.
When gambling becomes a problem
There is a point where gambling goes from something that a person has under control to something that is actively hurting the problem gambler. Gambling becomes a serious problem when one or more of the following things start to happen.
- Gambling starts to have a negative effect on work, school, or other important activities
- Gambling has a major negative effect on the person’s financial, physical, or mental health.
- Gambling negatively affects other people or important relationships
Signs that gambling is a problem
The issues above are major ones that will crop up when a person has a problem gambling. On the way to these life issues, there will usually be quite a few signs that you or someone you know are heading down this path. Some actions and behavior to watch for include:
- The gambler stops doing things they previously enjoyed outside of gambling
- They miss big personal events
- They lie about gambling
- They experience stress-related issues like trouble eating or sleeping
- They begin to ignore self-care and other normal responsibilities
- Their drug or alcohol intake increases
- Money becomes a progressively bigger issue
- They ask to borrow money frequently
- Their finances vary wildly
- They look to acquire money by any means necessary including lying, cheating, stealing, working more jobs, or cashing in valuable possessions or accounts
- They become obsessed with talking about or researching gambling
- They become unreliable or go away for unexplained time periods
- They withdraw from their social or family life
- They are anxious, depressed, or even suicidal
These signs can point to a wide range of things in different people but if you or someone you know is gambling more often and exhibiting some of these signs, it may point to a larger gambling problem.
Gambling Addiction Resources for Canadians
If you are a Canadian gambler that is struggling with a gambling addiction problem, there is help out there for you. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has a
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
75 Albert Street, Suite 500
K1P 5E7 Canada
Toll-free number: 1-833-235-4048
Phone number: 613-235-4048
Province and territory-specific helplines
Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission Helpline
British Columbia Problem Gambling Information and Referral Service
Manitoba Gambling Helpline
New Brunswick Problem Gamblers Hotline
Newfoundland and Labrador Helpline
Nova Scotia Toll-Free Gambling Helpline
Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Helpline
Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline
Prince Edward Island Gambling Addiction Treatment Program
Québec – Gambling Help and Referral
(514) 527-0140 Montreal and surrounding area
1-800-461-0140 and 1-866-767-5389 throughout the province
Saskatchewan Problem Gambling Helpline
Gambling is a great way to spend a few hours. It is a fun and exciting pastime that can be enjoyed responsibly by most people over the legal gambling age (18 or 19 depending on which Canadian province or territory you are in). However, every gambler should know going into it that it can become a problematic addiction if not treated carefully and with the proper respect.
In order to keep yourself on the safe and responsible side of gambling, we laid out a few tips to remember when participating in this activity. These eight tips are:
- Gambling should be for entertainment
- Set limits for yourself
- Only gamble with your own money
- Don’t gamble when you are feeling poorly
- Avoid mind-altering substances when gambling
- Don’t increase your betting to make up for the money you lost
- Gamble in moderation
- Educate yourself about problem gambling
If you can follow these tips, it will help your chances of keeping gambling an enjoyable and safe activity for yourself. If not, there are some signs you should look for, especially if gambling starts to have a negative effect on work, school, important activities, financial, physical, or mental health, other people, or important relationships for you or someone you know.
If you do see the signs related to these negative effects, there are places that Canadians can turn to for help. A good place to start is with the CSSA and there are a number of hotlines and helplines you can go to from there. If you or someone you know has a problem, please seek help as soon as possible. It is possible to recover from gambling addiction but the sooner you ask for help, the better it will be.
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