By Jasminee Sahoye
One win at the casino could trigger another try at the machine and another until the winnings run out and the extra cash in the wallet runs out. But the feelings that a big win is possible may lead to the withdrawal of funds from the nearby ATM in the casino. And if this becomes a habit, it could lead to problem gambling, a form of addiction.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), most people gamble responsibly and without problems. “However, for one to four per cent of the population, gambling takes up much of their money and time and hurts their family life, employment, finances, well-being and health.”
The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) says there are several myths associated with gambling. A recent study showed that 43 per cent of Ontario adults believe at least one gambling myth or misperception. “This slot machine has not paid out in a while – it’s due for a win,” but the fact is completely different.
According to the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), “the outcome of a slot machine spin is not controlled by timing or luck, it’s controlled by a computer chip – a random number generator that continuously produces thousands of numbers every second. When you hit the ‘play’ button, the number generated at that split second is converted into a result on the screen – either a win or a loss.”
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) warns casino visitors to know their spending limit and avoid exceeding that limit. It has produced a number of brochures which are available at casinos but many do not take the time to read them. Advice on responsible gambling and how to deal with problem gambling are available by the RGC, which has set up help desks at a number of casinos.
If a family member, spouse or friend has a gambling problem but they are not prepared to admit that there is a problem, then you cannot force that person to stop. There are warning signs to look for according to the RGC. These may include lying about how much money is spend on gambling, borrowing money or selling things to get money, skipping work or other obligations to gamble, gambling in order to win back losses and feeling that a ‘big win’ will solve all the problems.
According to a Statistics Canada report titled Gambling 2011 by Katherine Marshall, “around six in 10 women and men living alone reported spending money on at least one gambling activity; however, on average men spent almost twice as much as women—$615 compared with $335.”
The OLG says all outcomes at gaming sites are unpredictable and not related to past play. “Chances of winning are not related to how long you play the machine you choose or the time of day you play. Slots are programmed to take in more money than they pay out. So odds are, the more you play, the more you pay. Remember slot machines are entertainment. When your entertainment money is spent, it’s time to call it a day. Set a budget, stick to it and most importantly, have fun.”
If you know of anyone who has a gambling problem, help is available from the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline 1-800-230-3505 or its website www.responsiblegambling.org. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also provides assistance through their toll free line 1-888-647-4414 or online at www.ProblemGambling.ca.