Canada’s gambling industry is thriving but it also means that more issues with problem gambling and gambling addictions arise.
By 2022, more than 20 million people in Canada out of 38 million were identified as gamblers who play for real money on a regular basis. At the same time, around 304,000 Canadians are already identified as problem gamblers, and this number is likely to increase as more online casinos for real money become available to locals.
One of the reasons why this happens is because the industry becomes more regulated and more transparent but also more allowed to advertise. In 2022 alone, people have been complaining about gambling ads volume increased on their social media and generally around them 7-8 times compared to the previous year. Gambling sites and apps lure new players in and encourage regular players to play even more. According to a recent poll, more than 50% of Canadians agree that the volume of ads should be decreased – regardless of whether these people themselves are gamblers or not.
While a regulated, legal, and transparent industry is always better than the opposite, history shows that players tend to develop problem gambling behaviors regardless of the regulations, but if they are encouraged to play, this trend is likely to increase as a result. A percentage of Canadians is already identified as moderate to high-risk problem gamblers, and this is the reason why Responsible gambling initiatives are necessary in the country.
Every province and territory has its own local and provincial organizations that work with problem gambling and provide counseling and assistance. The following resources are available in Canada:
- Alberta Health Services
- British Columbia Partnership for Responsible Gambling
- Addictions Foundation in Manitoba
- New Brunswick Health
- Newfoundland Labrador Health and Community Services
- Northwest Territories Health and Social Services
- Nova Scotia Problem Gambling Help Line
- Nunavut Health and Social Services
- Health PEI Gambling Addiction Services
- Quebec Gambling: Help and Referral
- Saskatchewan Health — Gambling
- Yukon Health and Social Services
Speaking of the country-wide organizations that pioneer the corresponding initiatives, the Responsible Gambling Council is one of them. Its most initiatives include developing mobile apps that help players with self-management in gambling urges and compulsive behavior; partnerships with hospitals and health care specialists; research and studies in the field; collaboration with casino operators and even game developing studios to improve Responsible gambling tools, etc.
All these initiatives are created to provide credible information and education to any stakeholder or person involved, to prevent problem gambling, and to help manage the consequences of gambling addiction, including physical and mental health consequences.
The Responsible Gambling Council works to reduce the risks of gambling, both offline and online, under the circumstances of the industry’s fast development. The best and most reliable operators can even get accreditation with the Council.
It must be stated immediately that the key to responsible gambling practices is in the hands of the players. If a particular player is not aware of the dangers of problem gambling and compulsive behavior, few limitations will help them avoid the issues and consequences. This is why the most important aspect of proper gambling practices is the education of players and potential players.
In most provinces where land-based gambling and/or online gambling is allowed, local businesses are required to spend part of their income on the education sector in the community, and education about gambling and proper mental health care is included.
Players need to be encouraged to use the tools and limits offered by land-based and online casinos and other businesses that have to comply with the province’s regulations. Players have to be educated about the nature of financial risks that are always involved in any gambling activities and be aware that gambling is an entertainment that should not be pursued if they cannot afford it.
Many provinces restrict access of younger players to any gambling activities, even traditional games like bingo or lottery. Most provinces allow access to such activities at the age of 19, except Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec which allow 18-year-olds to gamble.
All provinces and territories that regulate gambling businesses on their territories have specific rules and requests that casinos have to follow. Speaking of the general rules for online casinos in the majority of provinces, these sites have to provide:
- Responsible gambling tools and limits
- Identity verification and proof of age
- Guarantee minors protection
Responsible gambling tools and limits usually include daily/weekly/monthly deposit, loss, wager limits; time session limit or alarm; cooling-off option (1 to 3 days), and self-exclusion option (from 2 weeks to 6 months to forever).
Identity verification procedures are necessary to ensure that the casino customer really owns the funds they plan to spend on gambling and that the customer does not pursue money laundering activities. Proof of age is necessary to prevent minors from gambling, including the opportunity to use an adult player’s account.
It is impossible to imagine Canada without its gambling industry because the country has been on its path to becoming one of the global leaders for several years. The industry’s development is useful for job creation and the economy, however, more and more players are likely to be affected. This is why Canada is constantly working towards developing and improving its Responsible gambling initiatives.