Responsible Gambling Tips & Strategies

The Gambling Truth

It is important to understand that although different games have different odds of winning and varying degrees of skill or influence from the player can affect the odds of winning, players are more likely to lose, particularly over time, than they are to win. If that wasn't true, gaming operators and vendors would be out of business.

When players think they are the exception to this truth, they can get themselves into trouble. Faulty thinking about one’s control over gambling outcomes can lead a person to bet more often with more money than they would otherwise. This behaviour tends to lead to bigger losses and more trouble for the player.

Plan Ahead
Arrange your day and evening beforehand and plan other leisure activities in addition to gambling.

Set a Time Limit Set a Money Limit
Determine the amount of money you are going to bet before you start. Use only money set aside for entertainment, not money needed for food, bills or other necessities. Decide in advance if you are going to play any winnings along the way or keep them separate to take them home. To help you stick to your set limit, leave your debit and credit cards at home.

Be Self-Aware
Check in with yourself before you start to gamble. Are you feeling lonely, anxious or depressed? Making healthy decisions about anything (diet, relationships, shopping, gambling) can be more challenging during times of increased stress or hardship, or if you are experiencing anxiety, depression, pain or loss.
Gambling to escape other life problems doesn’t work. Often the effects are that the problems may increase and/or new ones can be created.

Keep It Social
Bring a friend or plan to meet a friend at the gambling venue so your time and energy spent aren’t just about gambling.
Know the Game
Before gambling, learn how the games work. Understand the odds of winning so you can make informed decisions about how much to bet, how many lines to play, whether to take another card, etc. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions of gaming staff and GameSense Advisors. It’s better to admit you don’t fully understand a game than it is to risk losing more than you can afford.

Keep a Record
Keep track of how much time and the money you spend each time you gamble, as well as how often you go. Sometimes people are surprised by how much money and time they spend on gambling. Review your notebook before and after each session and check to see if you are staying on track with your decisions.

Take Frequent Breaks
People can get anxious about taking breaks when gambling because they think they are going to lose a win by stepping away. When you understand how gambling works (for example, that there is no such thing as a “hot” slot machine) it can be easier to take breaks.
Leaving a machine, a table or your computer is important because that time away allows you to check your limits to make sure you aren’t over in time or money. You can also check in with yourself to make sure you are feeling okay and still enjoying what you are doing. If you find you are feeling anxious, frustrated or depressed you may want to just call it a day and go and do something else.

Have an Exit Strategy
Let your family and friends know about your plans beforehand. Make transportation and other arrangements ahead of time. This allows you to stop exactly when you are ready to do so, and encourages you to stick to your time limit. Have a back-up plan in case you lose your money more quickly than planned.

Balance Gambling with Other Activities
You’re more likely to enjoy the time you spend gambling if gambling isn’t your only form of entertainment. That’s because even when you’re playing for fun, it’s no fun to keep losing money. If you’re playing for fun and you win, it’s nice to use that windfall for other things. If you balance gambling with other activities you are less likely to let it interfere with your work or your relationships with friends and family.

Know Where & How to Get Help
Get additional help services through the Responsible & Problem Gambling Program.
Check out other information available on this website or call the Problem Gambling Help Line at 1.888.795.6111 (24hrs) to be connected to free support services.

Retrieved from

Myths & Facts

More often, gambling is a way to lose money. If you gamble, think of it as a kind of entertainment you have to pay for, just like a movie or dinner with friends. That can help you keep gambling in perspective—and if you end up winning some money now and then, it’ll be a nice treat instead of something you were depending on.

Teens tend to gamble with friends and not in casinos, but that doesn't mean they can’t develop gambling problems. In a 2008 survey of Alberta students in grades 7 to 12, just over 2%, so about 2 out of every 100 students surveyed showed signs of problem gambling. About 4% or 4 out of every 100 students showed signs of being at risk for developing problems with gambling.

Not true! Casinos stay in business because most people don't win their money back. Think about it: how long would a casino stay in business if it paid out more money than it took in? The fact is that most gamblers lose far more money than they win in these places.

How often a person gambles has no relation to a gambling addiction. Pathological gamblers may only gamble once a week or once a month. It’s the emotional and financial consequences of the gambler’s actions that signal an addiction.
How much money you win or lose is not determinative of a gambling addiction. Gamblers may win big and then lose all their earnings the next day, or they may only bet a certain amount each time. Typically, gamblers will incur enough debt that the financial consequences of their behavior begin impacting their lives, but that is not always the case.
Certain activities, such as gambling, are just as addictive as drinking or doing drugs. Gambling may produce a euphoria that encourages the gambler to keep repeating the behavior to achieve that effect. As with drugs and alcohol, the gambler develops a tolerance for gambling and will take bigger and bigger risks to achieve that euphoria. A gambler will give into a craving for gambling by doing it more often, regardless of the negative consequences. As with any other addictions and compulsive behaviors, pathological gamblers may also be in denial about their behaviors, and may not believe they have a problem at all.
Compulsive gambling is an emotional problem that has financial consequences, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Even if a gambler’s financial obligations are taken care of, that person will still be a compulsive gambler. The problem is not how much money the gambler has lost, but that the person has an uncontrollable obsession with gambling.
It is common for people to believe that those suffering from addictions are weak-willed and irresponsible. But anybody can become addicted to gambling, no matter how responsible they are. Once they become caught up in their addiction, gamblers may engage in irresponsible behaviors to maintain their addiction.  
While some gamblers may engage in criminal behavior, such as theft or assault, that is not the norm. It is often a feeling of loss of control that drives a gambler to engage in such behaviors.
Gamblers normally have a preference for what they will be on, and are not likely to be tempted by betting on other things. For example, a gambler who makes weekly trips to the race track may not be tempted by lottery tickets or slot machines.
Just because people have money to lose doesn’t mean that their actions aren’t problematic. Compulsive gambling typically interferes in all areas of the gambler’s life, including relationships with family and friends and work. It is the behavior of gambling itself that is the problem, not the financial consequences of the activity.
Constantly bailing a compulsive gambler out of debt may only enable the behavior. While getting the debt repaid may be a priority, it is more important to address the gambling addiction itself and get the gambler the help needed to overcome the addiction.
Unlike addictions to drugs and alcohol, compulsive gambling has very few apparent symptoms. The behavior is easy for people to hide, especially if they are addicted to online gambling.