‘Stop the chase’ – Gambling addiction advocacy

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Problem Gambling Prevention Week took place in Kitchener-Waterloo from Oct. 6-12 and was supported by the Responsible Gambling Council, who helped to reach out to problem gamblers, as well as their friends and family.
The council raises awareness by focusing attention on the risks of gambling, ways to limit those risks, realistic expectations of winning and losing and where to go if you or someone you know has a problem. They also teach people how to spot problems, protect finances and get help through specific resources.

Research by the committee indicates that problem gambling of someone else negatively affects one in 10 Ontarians, with 3.4 per cent of Ontarians reporting a moderate to severe gambling problem. This 3.4 per cent amounts to 831,000 people in Ontario.

More specifically in K-W, problem gambling reportedly negatively impacted 58,800 people, while there are reportedly 20,000 adult problem gamblers.

The theme of Problem Gambling Prevention Week in K-W was called “Stop the Chase” to advocate for gamblers to stop chasing their losses.

“Problem gamblers often chase losses by believing they can win back money when gambling,” explained Galo Chan, program coordinator and spokesperson for Problem Gambling Week.

“It also leads to even bigger losses with consequences that can happen in a person’s life.”

Chan explained that some of the symptoms shown when experiencing a gambling problem are chasing losses, lying about how much time or money is spent on gambling, hiding bills and past due notices, neglecting one’s family, having increased levels of debt, getting irritated with everyday activity and having very few interests outside of gambling.

Chan also encouraged family members and friends to get informed if they think a loved one may be suffering from a gambling problem.

David Bernstein, a fourth-year business student at Wilfrid Laurier University said that while Problem Gambling Prevention Week is an admirable endeavor by the Ontario government to prevent harmful tendencies, many students are still unaware of it.

“The week remains relatively unknown to youth gamblers,” he said. “If the government wants to protect people from the harm gambling can do, they need to make a more valiant effort to make people aware of the downfalls.”

Despite this, Chan said that the province of Ontario endorses and funds problem gambling prevention more than any other jurisdiction in the world.

“Students learn from their mistakes only after they have made them,” said Bernstein.

“The best way to make sure this doesn’t turn into a pattern or a gambling problem is to build awareness and support systems to prevent escalation and to educate students.”

Bernstein concluded by stating that it is important that gambling awareness is emphasized more in post-secondary institutions in order for students to be able to recognize if there is a problem at hand.

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