The Money Lady: Check for signs that gambling is becoming a problem

 In Opinion

Dear Money Lady Readers,

Online gambling in Canada is way up in popularity among the Gen-Z’s and Millennials.

Originally thought of to be popular with those aged 45+, now gambling online is something 14- and 15-year- olds do in the growing digital savvy population of Canada’s youth. Not to mention that we now see the endorsements from big sports stars like the great Wayne Gretzky.

In 2023 the online gambling industry was worth $3.96 billion in Canada alone, projected to be worth $5.46 billion by 2028. The highest grossing provinces for gambling revenue include Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.

Gambling is only sanctioned under provincial authority however there are more and more powerhouse websites offering casino and sports betting in Canada that exist offshore beyond the provincial jurisdictions. This is the great “grey area to gambling.” These popular sportsbooks (example: betway. com), held their licenses in Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Mexico, Spain or even Sweden and Canada has been losing a $14 billion revenue stream annually to offshore and unregulated betting websites. The reality is, it’s all fine with these off-shore sites, until you have a problem settling a dispute or getting your winnings, and the CGA (Canadian Gambling Association) is helpless. Last year in June of 2023, the Canadian Senate introduced two sports betting bills: Bill S-268 (allows Indigenous First Nations to offer retail and online sports betting on reserves) and Bill S-269 which provides a national framework for sports and betting ads across Canada.

Most people who bet on sports don’t consider themselves to be gamblers. These are gamers that never go to casinos but choose to bet on sports they religiously follow and know. But gambling whether sitting at home in private on your phone or sitting at a casino table is the same thing. Gambling stimulates the brain’s reward system, much like drugs or alcohol, and can lead to addictive behavior if it becomes compulsive.

Remember gambling is a “game.” So, treat it as such. This is not the way to build your retirement future or a way for you to improve your situation. You are the only one that can make this happen, slowly over time, doing the right things, striving to better yourself and consistently saving for your future.

You don’t need me to tell you that excess gambling could ruin your life, so instead I have included some of the signs to watch out for.

Here are some gambling traits that indicate you may have a problem:

  • Are you preoccupied with gambling; wanting to play more and get more money to do so?
  • Are your gambling bets increasing? Do you need to increase the amount of the bet to get the same thrill?
  • Do you feel restless or irritable if you miss a gambling opportunity?
  • Do you chase past losses by gambling more?
  • Do you lie to family and friends to hide your gambling?
  • Do you need to ask others for money to bail you out when you lose money gambling?

These questions are just the start. If you or someone you care about has a gambling problem, please seek help from a professional. There are ways to treat this problem and it is especially important if you are young. Gambling during your teenage years increases the risk of developing compulsive habits as you age. Those that have OCD or ADHD (obsessive-compulsive disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivitydisorder) may find it easier to slip into a gambling habit. If you feel that you are craving a gambling high, try to go “cold turkey” for three months or more and remove yourself from all places where gambling occurs. Remember, this is an addiction to some, and it indeed will be hard to break this compulsive behavior once your brain has established it as a “feel-good” drug. Compulsive gambling will destroy your future, guaranteed.

Good Luck and Best Wishes, Money Lady

Christine Ibbotson is an author, finance writer, national radio host, and is now on CTV Morning Live, and CTV News @6 syndicated across Canada. Send your questions through her website at

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