Understanding gambling addictions and how to overcome them

2023-08-16  2 minute read

David Palmateer

Credit Counselling

Participation in gambling activities is widespread among Canadians. According to Statistics Canada, around 75 – 79 percent of the population engage in various forms of gambling. These activities encompass a range of options, including casino gambling, horse betting, sports betting, poker, bingo, internet gaming, lotteries, and raffles.

Businessman using smartphone against gambling app screen

The Oxford Dictionary defines gambling as “taking a risky action in the hope of a desired result”. The key players in a gambling dynamic are the facilitators, who seek profits by offering gambling opportunities, and the participants, who aim to profit from winning. The interplay of chance is crucial to these objectives. Lower odds of winning benefit facilitators, enabling them to make profit by paying out less in winnings than they receive in bets.

Canadian governments closely regulate gambling, often at the provincial level. Legalization provides a means to generate funds for various purposes, supplementing revenue from sources like income tax, harmonized sales tax, etc. Charitable organizations also use some forms of gambling to raise funds for their respective causes. While some gambling providers contribute positively to society, other facilitators are purely driven by profit.

Despite strict regulations, the internet provides very easy access to both regulated and unregulated gambling worldwide. This includes the pervasive use of Microtransactions in online gaming and apps, even exposing children through their favorite video games.

Types of gamblers

The impact of a gambling addiction varies based on the type of gambler a person is. Here are five types of gamblers and the behaviours they exhibit:

Professional gamblers

This type of gamblers maintain control over the time, energy, and money they spend on gambling activities. They approach gambling as a profession, are highly skilled at it, and make consistent profits from it.

Casual social gamblers

This group only engage in gambling activities for entertainment and recreation. It doesn't interfere with their financial stability, personal responsibilities, and wellbeing. Social gamblers are driven purely by the excitement they derive from the activity and not financial gain. They can also set limits on the time they spend gambling.

Serious social gamblers

They are similar to casual social gamblers but have a deeper knowledge of games and betting strategies. Serious social gamblers enjoy gambling activities and commit time and money to it, but don’t rely on it for income. They’re also able to balance gambling with life and personal obligations, and don’t allow it to negatively impact their financial wellbeing.

Relief and escape gamblers

Relief and escape gamblers turn to gambling as a way to relieve stress and deal with emotional issues. They derive excitement from it as it serves as a form of distraction from their challenges, but they’re able to maintain a level of control over their gambling behaviour.

Compulsive gamblers

These are gambling addicts who have lost control over the persistent urge to gamble. They think constantly about gambling, become restless when they can’t gamble, try to recoup their losses by gambling more, and hide their gambling addiction from loved ones. Gambling has serious negative consequences on the financial and personal wellbeing of compulsive gamblers, and they may require professional help.

Treatment for compulsive gamblers

Identifying the signs and symptoms of problematic gambling behavior is the first step towards getting help. Although compulsive gamblers face the most severe consequences, everyone can benefit from being aware of the potential issues tied to the behavioral, emotional, financial, and health aspects of gambling.

Treatment options are available to address gambling-related harm. Free counseling services are accessible in Ontario for those affected by gambling addiction, helping individuals reduce or completely stop harmful and excessive gambling behaviors. Provincial Lottery Corporations provide resources and links to Responsible Gambling Councils, YMCA, GamTalk, and Credit Counselling Services such as Credit Canada.

How to get a financial fresh start

If you’re dealing with a gambling addiction, financial recovery is often complex due to the significant damage caused by problematic gambling behaviour. Budgeting alone might not be enough to overcome your financial burden. Seeking professional advice is advisable to explore potential solutions for resolving the associated debt.

MNP LTD offers complimentary consultations at our local offices for individuals seeking a fresh start. These consultations provide insights into whether options like Consumer Proposals or Bankruptcy are necessary to help you achieve a new financial beginning.

Contact us for a Free Confidential Consultation where we will help you understand your situation and provide you with a unique plan for moving forward on your financial journey.

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