March 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 87  

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Ontarians worship the mighty Gamblor

By Jenn Law
Gazette Writer

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 a disease.

“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 gamblers.

“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.



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