Credit Canada claims that there has been a rise in the number of online gamblers in the country, during the lockdown restrictions caused by the unprecedented situation. According to counsellors from the institution, many individuals are now blaming to full or some degree online wagering for their financial troubles when seeking advice.
With the closure of brick-and-mortar casinos in Canada in March 2020 and the followed winter December one again in 2020, many gambling enthusiasts had to resort to online wagering. Due to having a lot more time on their hands and having easier access to gambling services, it seems as many of those gamblers found themselves in a tough spot when it came to controlling their gaming habits.
Bruce Sellery, who is the CEO of Credit Canada says that online gambling has become quite problematic as it can be accessed by gamblers through their phones or other devices. According to the CEO, many of the institution’s clients are suffering from the impact of online gambling and they are having difficulties in sharing it with their loved ones, thus causing trouble at home.
Some of the signs that someone is experiencing gambling problems include cases of the person regularly borrowing money, as well as having troubles paying his monthly bill. They also tend to take cash advances from credit cards and hiding their gambling habits from their loved ones. Land-based casinos are now reopened and the long-term impact of online gaming is not yet known.
Lorri Lowe, who is the Executive Director of ConnexOntario, which is a provincially-funded agency that provides help to compulsive gamblers, stated that the agency is concerned about the growing issue of online gambling and that the problem should not be underestimated. Mr. Lowe, also advises everyone who experiences such troubles to contract the agency as advisors are available 24/7.
Additionally, the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation has also given a statement regarding the subject of problem gambling. A spokesperson for the agency stated that the OLG is an advocate of responsible gambling, as it provides player tools and educational materials on the matter from its award-winning PlaySmart program. The province’s rate of problem gambling is the lowest out of all other jurisdictions with a rate of 0.3%.
Balancing Risk and Benefit
Recently, the OLG started to roll out its quarterly allocations to municipalities in Ontario for the hosting of casino properties. Pickering received its first-ever payment for the hosting of the summer-opened Pickering Casino Resort. However, addictions councillor Alexandria Baker reminded that despite the benefits to the local economy, the city should not forget about the possible negative effects of the gambling services to its locals. According to her, with higher accessibility comes a greater risk for patrons.
New Gambling Awareness Guidelines
In order to raise more awareness for the issue of problem gambling, the Canadian Centre on Substance and Addiction released a new set of guidelines on the matter. The new guidelines state that a gambler should not be wagering with more than one percent of his household income for a month and they should focus only on two or fewer games at a time.
Source: Foran, Pat “Pandemic leads to increase in online gambling, credit counsellors say”, CTV News, November 2, 2021