Ontarians worship the mighty Gamblor
By Jenn Law
A survey completed in 2001 concluded that over 340,000 individuals
in Ontario suffer from moderate to severe gambling addictions,
causing many to question the root of the societal dilemma.
Rob Simpson, CEO for the Centre for Problem Gambling, said
he prefers to describe addictive gambling as “a problem,” not
“Gambling ultimately becomes a problem for regular gamblers,
and they soon find themselves [with] $100,000 worth of debts.
The foundation for the constant desire to gamble is distorted
thinking or the idea of spending more and more money each time
an individual bets.”
Simpson said males aged 18 to 24 are especially drawn to the
high-priced game. “Young males are more risk-taking,
and they get caught up with a lot of sports gambling. They
also have the need to delve into the male ego of winning bets
with their peers,” he said.
Paul Whitehead, a sociology professor at Western, said he
agreed with Simpson that labelling gambling as an addiction
does not help the situation.
“It’s a psychological dependence with habituation
involved. Problem gambling is due to compulsive attitude, because
when people benefit from gambling, it ultimately attracts more
people in general,” he said.
“Gambling has clearly gotten more attention with the
fact that it’s government revenue and supported by an
immense amount of good media content,” said John McDonald,
youth specialist for the Problem Gambling Service of The Centre
for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
Before gambling’s negative impact becomes a major problem,
the main goal is to enforce preventative measures for out-of-control
“Unfortunately there is no treatment, because some individuals
will end up paying off debts for the rest of their lives. For
many, this sort of situation leads them into desperation to
win big to solve their problems,” McDonald said.
Simpson commented that individuals need to realize gambling
is a leisurely activity. “People must have the intentions
of losing, and after they lose have the dignity to leave.”
“Individuals should consider gambling a recreational
activity. Go in with a pre-set limit. Make a contract with
yourself and be out of the casino before you lose a limit.
The frequency is also important. Set a time limit and duration
at the casino and stick to it,” McDonald added.