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The Dangers Of Gambling Addiction - Thoughts from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee

The Perils Of Gambling

When many of us were kids there were only two forms of gambling available: Lottery tickets and bingo halls. Of course, none of us thought of those two things as forms of gambling. Now, gambling manifests itself in many more shapes and types – from casino slot machines to card games and poker tournaments. The Province’s OLG corporation has just launched a new sports betting program to encourage even further gambling.

“Gaming” is now legal across the province and Ontario is open for business as a gambling destination. The word “gaming” sounds a lot less dicey than the word “gambling,” making it more acceptable to the average person. But just because most gambling is legal does not mean it is not dangerous (case in point: cigarettes and alcohol, both addictive and both fully managed by our government). Gambling can be extremely addictive for many people, and for some it can have a serious, financially detrimental, effect on life if the addiction is left unchecked.

Gambling can be fun. It can be enjoyable. It can be exciting. But it can also be financially draining and life changing. How can you tell if gambling has started to become a problem in your life? There are tell-tale signs that can verify a gambling problem.

Warnings signs for a gambling addiction

Do any of these warning signs sound like your current situation?

  • Is the anticipation of gambling giving you a rush of excitement that is as strong as the gambling process itself?
  • Are you going back, repeatedly, to try and “win back” the money you lost the previous time you played? (lottery players: take note!)
  • Are you borrowing money from family or friends, so you have money to gamble with?
  • Are you withdrawing money from your bank account using an ATM while at the gambling venue so you can continue gambling once you have lost your original cash?
  • Are you taking cash advances from your credit cards (normally at a higher rate of interest than your credit card purchases) so you can keep gambling?
  • Are you “on the hook” to the casino or a third-party for the funds you have lost?
  • Have you had to sell personal items (jewelry, vehicle, etc.) to get money to gamble with?

If you have checked off two or more of the items above, you could have a gambling problem.

The Effect Of Gambling On Families & Health

Worse yet, the fall-out from serious gambling can be as bad as the problem itself. Not only are there financial difficulties but they are often the cause of many marriage breakdowns. The partner responsible for the problem is often racked with guilt over not being able to properly support their family and the eventual havoc that ensues.

Many spouses and children are not even aware of the extent of a spouse or parent’s gambling problem until it becomes financially and emotionally damaging to the entire family.

Health effects are another concern when you are addicted to gambling. Being under stress can raise your blood pressure or cause you to have a stroke or heart attack. Some doctors even go as far as to suggest several forms of cancer can be linked to extreme stress in individuals.

The stress comes from being in a dire situation and not knowing how to recover. From not knowing how to get help for yourself and get your family life back on track again.

Almost Impossible To Avoid

Gambling is not just going to the casino and playing slot machines or games of chance (such as poker, blackjack, or keno) or going to the racetrack to bet on what you think could be the winning horse. Our society is now inundated with other forms of gambling, including VLTs (video game-style gambling), internet sites for poker (some of them illegal in Canada), a vast number of lottery options and the ever-popular bingo (one of the original forms of gambling in our province).

Luckily, there IS help available. It is a step-by-step process, with the goal of finding the right solution to this problem. Often a combination of financial counselling and talk therapy can prove helpful. As can having yourself voluntarily restricted from accessing casinos and other gambling venues.

The other side of the gambling issue is the debt problems that occur. And those we can assist you with. If you feel your gambling is getting out of control and you need help to resolve your debt (and are prepared to cease gambling as well) then please reach out to us by CLICKING ON THE FREE CONSULTATION BUTTON, below. Our Farber licensed professionals will meet with you, discuss your debt pressures in a safe environment where you can discuss what has been occurring with us. We are here to listen – and to help you!