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Responsible Gambling

By Guy Evans on

BestOnlineCasinos.ca is dedicated to helping customers find the best place to play online. Your safety and well-being is a priority, which is why all of our expert casino reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, and we highlight the key terms and conditions of every casino bonus we advertise. Whilst we accept commission from the casinos on our list of recommendations, and this may affect where they’re positioned on our lists, we only recommend casinos that we truly believe are safe and fair. Of course, we can’t rate and review every casino site, but we do make sure that only the best licensed casinos make it onto our lists.

BestOnlineCasinos.ca is dedicated to helping customers find the best place to play online. Your safety and well-being is a priority, which is why all of our expert casino reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, and we highlight the key terms and conditions of every casino bonus we advertise. Whilst we accept commission from the casinos on our list of recommendations, and this may affect where they’re positioned on our lists, we only recommend casinos that we truly believe are safe and fair. Of course, we can’t rate and review every casino site, but we do make sure that only the best licensed casinos make it onto our lists.

Gambling is a much-loved pastime for many Canadians, but it’s a pastime that comes with risks. Online casinos and affiliates to the industry have a duty to promote gambling in a responsible light, and it’s one we take very seriously.

The following page will provide information about the risk of gambling, why it can be so addictive, the warning signs to look out for in problem gamblers, and the organizations that can offer support to Canadian players and their loved ones suffering from problem gambling.

The Risks of Gambling

Whenever we eat our favourite foods or engage in another pleasurable activity, our brains reward us by releasing a chemical into our system called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a reward pathway, stimulating our enjoyment and making us want to repeat the action that caused its release. 

Dopamine is also inherently tied to risk taking. Whether it’s riding a skateboard or gambling at an online casino, engaging in activities that offer both a potential reward and a potential risk excites us. In these risk and reward transactions, dopamine is always present.

Issues surrounding problem gambling start to arise when an increased desire for risk taking – or an increased desire for dopamine gratification – begins to cause harm. In these moments, gambling can become incredibly addictive very quickly, the brain craving the rewarding release of dopamine as payment for a successful bet.

Because of online gambling’s ability to provide players with these instant rewards, the potential for addictions to develop and then to spiral out of control is high. Problem gamblers pose a serious threat to their own financial and psychological well-being, as well as to the well-being of those around them. 

As an industry affiliate, it is our responsibility to explain to our users the dangers present in the act of gambling. Our job is to dispel the kinds of fallacies which can so often justify poor gambling decisions – the idea that your “luck’s due to turn”, for example. 

Rather than being about luck, gambling is an exercise in probability. All casinos – whether online or land-based – are businesses, seeking to make as much profit as possible. Every casino game ever invented is designed for the house to make money. If this wasn’t the case, gambling as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. For these reasons, it’s imperative that gamblers are aware of the risks they take every time they place a wager.

Steps to Take to Gamble Safely and Responsibly

There are a number of steps online casino players can take to ensure they’re gambling responsibly. Casinos too are also getting better at providing on-site facilities that enable players to take better control of their gambling habits, particularly those at risk of developing an addiction. Below we’ve outlined these steps.

1. Only Deposit Cash You Can Afford to Lose

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently outlawed the use of credit cards at its licensed casinos, understanding that credit card deposits were a normalised payment method by which gamblers could spend money that wasn’t theirs. Before you begin a gambling session, have an idea in your mind about the amount of money you can afford to lose, and stick to it. There are certain payment methods now widely available at Canadian casino sites that support this approach. Prepaid cards, for example, aren’t tied to any bank account, so payments can only be made with funds already pre-loaded onto the card. 

2. Keep Close Tabs on Your Spending

The speed at which online casinos run can be disarming. When wagers are placed at just the click of a button, it’s easy to see how spending can quickly get out of control. Make sure you’re always paying close attention to the size and frequency of your wagers, and that these are in keeping with the limits you’d set yourself at the beginning of the gambling session. Players can lose sight of this principle when they’ve had a particularly disappointing session – in these moments, it’s vital that you resist the urge to chase your losses, as this can cause spending to spiral out of control.

3. Set Self-Imposed Time Limits on Your Gambling

Just like it’s easy to lose track of time in a physical casino, time can also fly online. Set yourself a time limit before you start gambling, and stick to it. The casino itself will begin timing your session as soon as you log in, so keep referring to it throughout to make sure you’re sticking to your own parameters.

4. Use On-Site Limiting Tools

Casino sites now offer their customers two limiting tools. You can restrict the amount that can be deposited in a given timeframe. Alternatively, you can activate a self-exclusion tool that will lock you out of their account for long periods. These tools are designed to manage spending and to enable those in danger of developing an addiction to take breaks while they seek appropriate help.

5. Only Play Whilst Sober and Clear-Headed

All of the above steps are hard to adhere to when you’re thinking straight. Gambling whilst under the influence of alcohol or other substances makes it that much harder to manage spending, stick to self-imposed limits, and make well-informed betting decisions. Clear-headedness extends beyond being sober, and players should also avoid placing bets when overly stressed, anxious, frustrated, or tired – all of these emotions obscure clarity of thought. 

6. Don’t Play Games or Bet on Markets You Don’t Fully Understand

Most online casinos provide free-to-play versions of their games alongside the real money equivalents. Before you start committing your own cash to your wagers, spend some time getting up to speed on the rules, gameplay, and mechanics of the games. This is particularly useful for table games, which can have so many complex rules.

If you’re more interested in sportsbook betting, always avoid markets you’re unfamiliar with. It’s wise to spend time getting to know sports inside and out before putting money on events. Even if you’re betting on a sport you know well, there’s no better preparation to gambling than conducting some personal research on the form of the team and players in question. 

7. Impartial and Non-Judgemental Help is Always Available

The most important step of all: never suffer in silence. No matter how bad things are or feel, know that you are never alone, and that there are lots of organizations that can offer you friendly, professional, and appropriate advice.

The Warning Signs of Problem Gambling and Addiction

It’s important to notice the warning signs of problem gambling when they start appearing. Here are some things to look out for that may indicate addiction:

  • A preoccupation with gambling – a noticeable increase in conversations about or involving gambling, and increased time spent on a mobile or desktop device
  • Chasing losses – an increased propensity to place additional bets following the loss of another bet 
  • Gambling as a release – when gambling becomes a recreational activity replacing other means of release, such as playing sports or socializing with friends
  • Borrowing or stealing money to gamble – finding ways to justify spending money that doesn’t belong to the person using it for gambling purposes
  • Hiding your gambling habits from friends and family – behaving differently around the people that know them best, and lying about their gambling habits 
  • Neglecting responsibilities and other interests – becoming more reclusive and introverted, and being unable to find the time to maintain personal, professional, familial, and social relationships
  • Becoming irritable or upset when not gambling – time away from a phone or desktop causes distress or anxiety or a generally heightened state of emotion

Organizations Offering Help

Each province has its own dedicated service to help those suffering from problem gambling. Here is a list of some of the organizations that can provide the right care and support. 

Responsible Gambling Council

The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent, non-profit organization that’s been fighting problem gambling in Canada and around the world for over 35 years. The RGC works closely with casinos and regulators to help create a better gambling environment for all, and it’s considered the go-to site for Canadians seeking help for gambling addictions.

Among its services are individual helplines for Canadians in all provinces; links to treatment centres in every province; information about where players can find PlaySmart Centres; advice on how to broach the subject of problem gambling to a loved one; advice on how to take control of gambling debt; and access to real-life stories from those who’ve recovered from gambling addictions.

ProblemGambling.ca

ProblemGambing.ca is a website that hosts a number of different self-help gambling tools. Among them is a quiz that helps participants understand the impact gambling is having on their life; self-monitoring tools that track gambling habits; interactive exercises for those suffering from problem gambling, as well as similar tools for loved ones; and a community forum.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has been running lottery-based games in Ontario since 1975, and offers award-winning addiction services for those suffering from problem gambling. Its site includes an online test to gauge levels of addiction, self-exclusion programs, live chat features, and links to support and counselling services. 

Gambling Support BC

Gambling Support BC is the designated resource for information and support for those suffering from problem gambling in British Columbia. There’s a self-assessment tool on-site, and other services include outreach support, counselling, and group treatment programs.

ProblemGamblingAlberta.ca

ProblemGamblingAlberta.ca is a website dedicated to providing help and support for problem gamblers in Alberta. The site features workshops and presentations aimed at promoting awareness about the impacts of problem gambling, as well as self-exclusion tools, useful government resources, and links to specific treatment centres throughout the province.

Loto Québec

On the Loto Québec website, there’s a section entitled A Game Should Remain a Game that offers resources for those suffering from problem gambling. This includes self-exclusion programs, a 24/7 helpline, links to treatment centres across Alberta, and lots of useful information about the industry, online casinos, and how their games function.

Contributors

Guy is a writer for BestOnlineCasinos.ca with a keen interest and expertise in the online gambling space. He’s also an avid fan of football and cricket, often found lamenting the fortunes of his beloved Tottenham Hotspur.

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