Learn the signs of problem gambling

Visitors to the Greenwood Teletheatre off-track betting facility on Oct. 3 were met by the chance to play a game of a different sort.

To raise awareness during Problem Gambling Prevention Week, Heather Ly from the Responsible Gambling Council offered patrons the chance to take part in a carnival ball toss and a trivia game.

The game was an ice breaker for Ly to share information on how to recognize the signs of gambling problems, and where to look for help if it’s needed.

“We talked to everybody,” she said, noting about 50 patrons stopped for a game or a conversation.

“Most people are really receptive to us,” said Ly. “We know that the majority of the people who do gamble do so safely.”

According to RGC research, an estimated 3.4 per cent of Ontario residents have a moderate to severe gambling problem. Almost all of those believe they are due for a big win.

Early warning signs of a potential problem include feelings of guilt, anxiety or frustration related to gambling, gambling to win back losses, experiencing extreme highs and lows from wins and losses, or irritation and lack of patience with everyday activities.

The Council suggests setting a dollar limit and sticking to it, setting a time limit on gambling, and never chasing losses by trying to win back lost money or to get out of financial trouble.

Ly said the casual setup at Greenwood is done every other year as part of the awareness week, and is intended mostly to offer information to gamblers in case they need it someday.

“Even if it’s not immediate, a month later they may pick up a brochure or visit our website,” said Ly.

For information on problem gambling or to find out how to get help locally, visit knowthesigns.ca or call the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-888-230-3505.

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