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Finding Help

Whether it’s for you or a loved one, get information on problem gambling and support resources below.

Problem Gambling – Is it time for help? 

Problem gambling is sometimes considered a hidden addiction, since the signals are not always easy to see. Whether it's you or a loved one, there are warning signs for when gambling has become more than just entertainment.

Do you or a loved one:

  • Gamble to escape other concerns?
  • Play longer than expected or planned? 

  • Miss work or school because of gambling?

  • Gamble with money meant for food or rent/mortgage?

  • Borrow money to gamble or pay gambling debts?

  • Promise to stop gambling, but continue to play? 

  • Experience mood or personality changes as gambling continues?

  • Miss family events to gamble?

  • Experience self-destructive thoughts due to gambling?

Still not sure?

How to help a loved one 

Helping with a loved one’s problem gambling can be a delicate issue, especially if they won't admit to a problem. Only the person with the problem can stop their gambling, but here are 5 steps you can take to help:

1. Get informed

Do a little research about problem gambling to better understand what your loved one is experiencing. Speak to someone who knows. Take advantage of free help and support resources.

2. Plan ahead

Arrange a plan of action and support system with someone you trust, such as a counsellor, doctor, family member or friend - and be ready for the possibility of a difficult reaction.

3. Find the right moment

When the person expresses remorse over gambling, this could be the right time to talk. 

4. Start the conversation

  • It's a good idea to speak in the first person when raising the topic of problem gambling. Using such terms as "I feel" or "I think" will shift focus away from the other person, encourage a more comfortable conversation and a less defensive response.

  • Stay calm while talking about the issues.

  • Clarify expectations. Negotiate and set firm boundaries about gambling, finances and responsibilities. 

5. After the talk

  • Recognize and praise positive steps and successes

  • Get help yourself. A support group or counsellor can be a great help with any issues, and with positive, effective communication. 

  • Protect yourself and your finances, and if necessary, use resources such as Credit Canada. 

  • Consider that positive change takes time and consistent effort.

Help and support

Whether it's help for you or a loved one, there are many ways to get support for gambling issues. Here are some to consider:

SELF-EXCLUSION PROGRAM

  • This is a voluntary program that offers anyone the chance to take a break from gaming.

  • Players can choose to stay away from online gaming on OLG.ca, Ontario casinos, or Charitable Gaming & Bingo Centres, from six months to five years.

Learn more about OLG Self-Exclusion and how it works. 

PlaySmart Centres

  • These spaces are in every Casino and OLG Charitable Bingo and Gaming Centre, to provide educational resources and advice to players.

  • PlaySmart Centre resources and friendly PlaySmart ambassadors can answer questions and connect you with support for problem gambling.

  • PlaySmart Centres are operated in partnership with the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) and can offer all players the information they need.

DIRECT SUPPORT AND COUNSELLING

CONNEXONTARIO

Your first line of support for free, 24/7 confidential help. Get on-the-spot counselling or information and referrals for services in your community. Connect by phone or online chat. 

Call 1-866-531-2600 

Visit ConnexOntario.ca

RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING COUNCIL (RGC)

This not-for-profit agency offers information and resources for problem gamblers and their loved ones.  

Visit the RGC website

camh

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health provides educational and self-help resources for those who want to get back in control, and those who want to help them.  

Visit the CAMH website.

ymca

The YMCA Youth Gambling Awareness Program is a free service offering educational, preventive programs to raise awareness of the risks of gambling and promote healthy, active lifestyles for young people.  

Visit the YMCA website

gamtalk

Sometimes talking about a problem is the first step to solving it. GamTalk features chatrooms and forums for those experiencing problems with gambling to connect with one another. Read and share stories, find information and support, and get links to helpful local professionals.

Visit the GamTalk website.

CREDIT CANADA DEBT SOLUTIONS

Need help with finances? Credit Canada, a not-for-profit agency, offers free, confidential credit counselling and education, as well as debt consolidation and repayment programs.  

Visit the Credit Canada website.

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