Problem Gambling

A person is gambling whenever he or she takes the chance of losing money or belongings, and when winning or losing is decided mostly by chance.

Gambling activities include slot machines, lottery tickets, bingo, casino games like blackjack or poker, betting on sports and internet gambling. More info can be found at the Problem Gambling website.

As gambling becomes more accessible, the number of people affected by problem gambling increases.

Some people are more likely to develop problems with gambling.

Are you at risk?

There are resources available to help reduce the risk of developing problems with gambling and to help you reduce or stop gambling

What is problem gambling?

Not all gambling is a problem. Gambling may be low risk, or it may be harmful.

For some people, gambling may become a serious problem that affects their finances, their family and work lives and their mental and physical health.

People from all age groups, income groups, and cultures can  experience problems with  gambling. Gambling problems can begin suddenly for some, while for others may develop over the course of many years.  

There are many reasons why a gambling problem may develop. For example, some people develop problems when they try to win back money they have lost, while others have stresses in their life that make gambling a welcome relief. Many other factors can contribute as well.

More information on problem gambling

When is gambling a problem?

Warning signs of problem gambling

Are you wondering whether you, or someone you know, has a problem with gambling?

Try this quiz and find out!

Do you think your gambling may have become a problem?

There is help available

Warning signs of problem gambling 

Problems with gambling share similarities with alcohol and substance problems, such as feeling unable to control the impulse, and continuing the action even though it is having negative consequences for the individual.

There are usually no visible signs or physical changes that will indicate a gambling problem, but there are some common behavioural, emotional, health and financial signs of problem gambling: Here is a quick checklist of  some of the signs of problem gambling.

  • Gambling to escape other worries
  • Playing longer than expected or planned
  • Missing work, school, family events because of gambling
  • Gambling with money meant for essentials like food or rent/mortgage
  • Borrowing money to gamble or pay off gambling debts
  • Promising to stop gambling, but continuing to play
  • Experiencing mood or personality changes as gambling continues
  • Experiencing thoughts of self-harm due to gambling

For more warning signs and other information on signs that gambling has become a problem please visit the Problem Gambling website.

Are you wondering whether you, or someone you know, has a problem with gambling? Fill out this quiz and find out!
Do I have a problem? Take the Quiz!

Are you wondering whether you, or someone you know, has a problem with gambling?

Fill out this quiz and find out!

There are resources available to help reduce the risk of developing problems with gambling, and to help you reduce or stop gambling.

Do you think your gambling may have become a problem? There is help available.

Suicide? What to do if you are feeling suicidal

If you or someone you know is in distress, please call one of the numbers below right away (24 Hour Help Lines):

  • 911
  • Ottawa Mental Health Crisis Line (EN/FR) : 613-722-6914, 1-866-996-0991 if outside Ottawa
  • Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region (EN) : 613-238-3311
  • Youth Services Bureau 24/7 Crisis Line (EN/FR) : 613-260-2360 or 1-877-377-7775 (Eastern ON)
  • Kids Help Phone (EN) : 1-800-668-6868
  • Centre d'aide 24/7 (FR) : 819-595-9999
  • Tel-aide Outaouais (FR) : 613-741-6433

For a full list of Mental Health and Addictions services in Ottawa please visit our page: Mental Health and addiction services

Risk factors

A number of risk factors can contribute to the development of gambling problems or make it more difficult to stop. People are more at risk if they: (Adapted from

  • Have an early big win (leading to false expectation of future wins)
  • Have easy access to their preferred form of gambling
  • Hold mistaken beliefs about the odds of winning (link to odd page)
  • Do not take steps to monitor gambling wins and losses
  • Have had a recent loss or change, such as divorce, job loss, retirement or death of a loved one
  • Often feel bored or lonely, or have a history of risk-taking or impulsive behaviour
  • Have financial problems
  • Have few interests or hobbies, or feel their lives lack direction
  • Have a history of mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety
  • Have been abused or traumatized
  • Have a parent who also has (or has had) problems with gambling
  • Have (or have had) problems with alcohol or other drugs, gambling or overspending
  • Tie their self-esteem to gambling wins or losses.

The more factors that apply, the more likely a person is to develop a gambling problem.

Self help tools

Do you gamble? These interactive tools will help you explore, cut down or stop gambling.


Do you think your gambling may have become a problem? There is help available.
How gambling really works

What are odds

Slot machines


Information for parents

Are you wondering whether your child has a problem with gambling? Fill out this quiz and find out!

OLG: Signs in young adults

Problem gambling in young adults: Look for the signs

  • Change in personality or behaviour
  • Unexplained absence from school
  • Sudden drop in grades and/or incomplete assignments
  • Plays daily or weekly games
  • Shows off valuable new possessions and is unable to account for them
  • Boasts about winning
  • Intense attention to published sports scores and conversations about gambling
  • Borrows or steals money
  • Starts to forget appointments or dates
  • Withdraws from family and friends
Where to get help

Where can I get help?

If you think you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available

Ottawa residents can call:

ConnexOntario provides confidential support and information about local counselling services for individuals with gambling problems and their families and friend. Contact through live chat, email, or call 1-866-531-2600.

Other prevention and treatment service providers available in Ottawa:

Local Ottawa Network 

The Ottawa Gambling Harm Prevention Network (OGHPN) is part of a four-point plan accepted by the Ottawa Board of Health from the report called: A Public Health Approach to Reducing Harms from Gambling in Ottawa.

Access to Full Report 

The mission of the OGHPN is to work together with partners to raise awareness of the harms around gambling, to help people make better decisions about gambling and to develop plans to prevent gambling harms in Ottawa.


  • Amethyst Women’s Addition Centre
  • Carleton University Gambling Lab
  • Centretown Community Health Centre: Lifestyle Enrichment for Seniors
  • Champlain Local Health Integration Network
  • Hard Rock Casino Ottawa
  • Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services
  • Resolve Credit and Financial Counselling
  • Responsible Gambling Council
  • Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
  • Youth Gambling Awareness Program (YMCA-YWCA)

For more information on awareness and prevention of harms from gambling, please check out the Ottawa Public Health Problem Gambling page.

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