When it comes to online gambling, everything is fun and games – until it’s not. Most of our site is dedicated to helping you find the best online casino games and websites to suit your entertainment preferences. However, we recognise that some players in Canada develop an addiction. This is a serious issue that can lead to personal and financial trouble. Please read on to learn more about compulsive gambling and gambling addiction treatment.
What is Gambling Addiction and What Causes It?
Gambling addiction, also referred to as compulsive gambling, is a disorder that stems from multiple causes. Like other addictions, it’s a disease that can be treated by professionals. Players are driven to continue playing even when they experience significant financial issues and other ill effects. They may find it hard to concentrate on anything else. Although there are number of reasons and compounding factors that might lead someone to develop a problem, here are the most common causes:
- Biological. There is a biological component to addiction. A gambler who wins at an online casino website will receive a dose of happy hormones like serotonin. If that person’s brain doesn’t produce enough hormones for a positive mood on its own, an addiction might develop. The gambler will subconsciously begin to link betting to a feeling of happiness and be driven toward problem gambling.
- Psychological. Although there are biological factors, psychological issues or tendencies might lead top gambling addiction. For example, someone who is over-confident and feels unbeatable may choose to wager their money over and over. This is commonly seen in some types of bipolar disorder. Alternately, someone who relies on superstition or doesn’t understand the odds of gaming may have a distorted view of what will happen.
- Social. Like all addictions, there is often a social component to problem gambling. A player who is going through a particularly rough patch may turn to gaming as a source of joy or connection. Loneliness, grief, and stress can lead gamblers to gamble compulsively as a way to escape their lives.
How to Recognize the Problem?
It can be difficult to identify whether you or someone you know has a gambling problem. After all, anyone can become involved in a new pastime without it turning into something more serious. Look for the following habits or changes to help identify compulsive gambling:
- They are often thinking about gambling, even when they are not actively gaming
- They lie to others to hide how much time or money they spend betting
- They need to bet continuously higher amounts of money to feel rewarded
- They try to chase losses and continue betting to recover money
- They turn to gambling as a way to cope with distress
- They try and fail to curb their own gambling habits
- They lose jobs, relationships, or educational opportunities due to gambling
- They rely on others for money to cover living expenses after losing
Although displaying one or two of these traits is not ideal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a gambling addiction. However, you may still have a gambling problem that could be helped by speaking with a professional. If you find yourself identifying with several things on this list, we encourage you to reach out for assistance.
Phases of Compulsive Gambling
No one develops an addiction overnight. Instead, there are four distinct phases that gamblers may experience as a compulsive gambling disorder builds.
- The Winning Phase. Problem gambling habits often set in after a player has experienced a significant win. Not all those who win while gaming at an online casino will develop a problem. However, those who feel they won because they experience extra luck are likely to push forward to some of the following stages.
- The Losing Phase. As a gambling addiction sets in, the player may continue to game and wager increasing amounts of money. That, of course, means they’re also losing money at a much faster rate. They may begin to hide financial troubles from their loved ones out of shame or anxiety.
- The Desperation Phase. By this point, the player is experiencing significant losses and debt. In an attempt to set things back on course, they will continue to gamble under the hope of winning big and paying back debts. Physical symptoms may manifest as the player begins to lose sleep or experience extreme stress due to the situation.
- The Hopeless Phase. This final phase does not occur in all gamblers with an addiction. However, those who feel that there is simply no way out may turn to drugs or alcohol to avoid dealing with the negative feelings and consequences brought on by their compulsive gambling disorder.
No matter what stage a person is in, there is always help. Any individual can receive counseling and resources to manage their gambling addiction. Keep reading to learn more about playing safe and getting help.
How to Play Safe?
If you’re worried about keeping yourself self and preventing a gambling disorder from developing, there are some steps you can take. The tips below will allow you to stay safe and can prevent the development of compulsive gambling.
- Remember that gaming is for fun, not profit
- Bet the money you’re ready to lose on an online game
- Choose a legitimate casino website with security features
- Bet while sober to make good choices
- Set a time limit for each day or week
- Stick to a budget for deposits
- Block yourself from casinos if you need to
How to Get Help If a Person Has Gambling Problems?
If you or someone you know is experiencing problems, don’t lose hope. There are many responsible gambling organisations and gambling addiction help resources available. These exist on local, national, and international levels. Most have help available 24/7, so you can reach out whenever you’re ready.
Canadian Organisations to Get Help
There are plenty of organisations that can help you manage and treat these problems. You can contact the below resources for tips on safe gambling, professional counseling, support groups, and other resources.
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse – www.ccsa.ca
Canadians can rely on this resource for a wide variety of legitimate information. Journal articles, public reports, and research can help gamblers and their families understand problem gambling.
Gamblers Anonymous – www.gamblersanonymous.org
This organisation is a great way to find community support. You can locate meetings near you or call their 24/7 hotline for help. Their website is also filled with information on responsible gambling.
GamCare – https://www.gamcare.org.uk/
Housed in the UK, GamCare is a great resource for information and self-assessments for gambling addiction. It’s sponsored by industry leaders and allows you to connect with counsellors or virtual support groups around the world.
BeGambleAware – https://www.begambleaware.org/
Confidential help is available here through phone or live chat, both of which operate around the clock. Also housed in the UK, this organisation relies on the National Responsible Gambling Strategy to guide players toward good habits.
Canada Safety Council – https://canadasafetycouncil.org/gambling-addiction/
Canada Safety Council has created a resource for self-assessment and a collection of local telephone numbers that gamblers can call 24/7 for information or assistance.
Gamblingtherapy.org – https://www.gamblingtherapy.org/
This is a modern, international website with a free app available for mobile devices. Members can join virtual support groups, community forums, and chat with professionals day or night. There are also self-assessment tools and information to help players evaluate their issues and needs.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – http://www.camh.ca/
This organisation is a great resource for information and finding qualified counsellors. Their website offers a collection of useful, scientific information and links to local resources as well.
ProblemGambling – https://www.problemgambling.ca/
This website is a good resource for friends and family members of those who suffer from an addiction to betting. Gamblers can also take self-assessments and post in a community forum.
Local Problem Gambling Councils
If you’re interested in finding a local Canadian responsible gaming council, you’re in luck. Every province has one set up. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local chapter for guidance, assistance, and support.
- Alberta. Alberta Health Services. 1-866-332-2322.
- British Columbia. British Columbia Partnership for Responsible Gambling. 1-888-795-6111.
- Manitoba. Addictions Foundation in Manitoba. 1-855-662-6605.
- New Brunswick. New Brunswick Health. 1-800-461-1234.
- Newfoundland. Newfoundland Labrador Health and Community Services. 1-877-999-7589.
- Northwest Territories. NWT Health and Social Services. 1-800-661-0844.
- Nova Scotia. Problem Gambling Help Line. 1-888-347-8888.
- Nunavut. Nunavut Health and Social Services. 1-800-265-3333.
- Ontario. ConnexOntario. 1-866-531-2600.
- Prince Edward Island. Health PEI Gambling Addiction Services. 1-855-255-4255.
- Quebec. Gambling: Help and Referral. 1-800-461-0140.
- Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan Health — Gambling. 1-306-787-7239.
- Yukon Territory. Yukon Health and Social Services. 1-800-661-0408.
There’s no shame in asking for help. If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the organisations listed above. We want you to enjoy gambling, but our priority is always your safety and well-being.
Updated Feb 3, 2024