Due to the recent advancements in the Canadian gambling industry, locals are now subject to tons of sports betting ads. This has triggered some concerns among parents and addiction experts. One of the parents is Liz Ritchie whose son took his own life a while ago after feeling helpless in overcoming his gambling addiction.
Currently, gambling is more accessible than ever before. For instance, earlier this year, Ontario introduced its own iGaming market which now regulates 68 gaming websites. This has also drastically increased sports betting marketing in the province, as last Saturday’s edition of Hockey Night aired no less than 19 sports betting commercials.
”Public Health Disaster Waiting to Happen”
Ms. Ritche commented that the government warns about sexual predators, drugs and alcohol, but it never did about gambling. She saw a similar boom in sports betting marketing a few years ago in the UK but never had an idea how it would affect her son. She believes that the abundance of sports wagering ads is a public health disaster waiting to happen.
A recovering gambling addict who preferred to stay anonymous and volunteers for Gamblers Anonymous Ontario said that he is also worried about the increase in ads. He said that for a 12-year-old or a 14-year-old who watches hockey, or any other sport, and sees the ads, it would be quite tempting for them to take their phones and place a bet on it.
He also criticized broadcasters, sports leagues, and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for not being careful enough. He shared that numerous parents from Ontario have contacted Gambling Anonymous seeking help, and being concerned that their children might be addicted to gambling, which has spiked in the province in recent months.
The anonymous recovering problem gambler believes that a completely open iGaming market will be harmful to Ontario and other provinces if their governments follow with similar frameworks. He commented that with mobile phones, individuals do not need to drive to casinos, as they can easily access gambling options from their mobile devices while at home.
Research on Problem Gambling in Canada
In August, Statistic Canada issued a new study on gambling behaviour, which discovered that more than 300,000 residents of the country are at severe or moderate risk of developing gambling-related problems. This study was conducted in 2018 and it features interviews with over 26,000 participants which are designed for long-term research.
Shauna Altrogge, the director of the Gambling Awareness Program with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Saskatchewan division warns about sports betting harm. According to her, young and highly-educated males are much more vulnerable to problem gambling conditions. She says the demographic will place their bets as they believe that they have some pretty solid chances, which is a concern.
Source: Ghobrial, Adrian “‘Society let him down’: Warnings from grieving mother, gambling addict as sports betting ads flood Canadians’ TVs” CTV News, December 16, 2022