At its best, playing in online casinos is an entertaining, exciting and profitable activity.
We believe in helping our community get the most out of its gaming experience, so we also have some information to disperse about responsible gaming.
We know everyone loves a win – whether that's a few cents at the poker table or a massive progressive jackpot – but it's important to not lose sight of the losses.
As any seasoned and sensible player can confirm, the magic of online casinos lies in the thrill of playing the games, rather than their outcomes.
This is a view we strongly support, but some players can still get entangled with addiction. If problem gambling is left unaddressed, it can lead to serious financial, personal and mental issues.
We care about your wellbeing and so do the best online casinos out there. There are options available to you if you feel that your gambling behaviour is getting out of hand.
How to gamble responsibly
The golden rule in the world of online casinos is to know your limits and never go past them.
Don't treat playing as an opportunity to indulge recklessly. Instead, take careful decisions about how you spend your time and money, where to play, how to have fun and when to stop. As the saying goes, by failing to prepare, you're preparing to fail.
These guidelines are a good start to gambling responsibly:
- Set betting and loss limits based on money you can afford to lose early on, and stick to them
- Never borrow money to gamble
- Set a reasonable time limit for gameplay sessions
- Take frequent breaks
- Alternate gameplay with other activities
- Avoid gambling when highly stressed, depressed, intoxicated or otherwise distressed
- Talk to someone if you feel your gambling is spiralling out of control
Underage gambling is prohibited by law and online casinos should take the necessary measures to ensure that no one under the legal age is permitted to play.
The minimum age for gambling in Canada varies between provinces.
- Players in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec need to be at least 18.
- For the rest of Canada, the legal minimum age 19.
How to recognise a gambling problem
Problem gambling doesn't happen overnight so it can be hard to diagnose in yourself or others.
The symptoms usually develop over time and the earlier you notice them, the higher the chances of making a quick recovery without any further negative consequences.
Here are the classic signs to look out for:
- You play with money you can't afford to lose and money that should be going towards essential expenses such as rent or a mortgage, utilities, groceries etc.
- You spend too much time gambling with increasing sums of money.
- You chase your losses and believe you have special luck or abilities, or that you're due a change in luck.
- Playing is no longer fun; you feel you need to play no matter what and you're constantly preoccupied with the next opportunity to gamble.
- You do or are willing to do anything to procure money for gambling, including borrowing, cheating and stealing.
- You're late to appointments, absent for increasing time periods from commitments such as work or school, call in sick more than average, and act secretive about your whereabouts.
- You've undergone changes in your personality. You exhibit frequent mood swings, seem worried, agitated or irritated, and you're sometimes in distress or depressed, with a tendency for manipulative or controlling behaviour.
- Your finances are in bad shape.
- Your loved ones are suffering the ramifications from your gambling and have pointed out you might have a problem.
More information about gambling addiction is available on the NHS website. If any of the above sound familiar to your situation, it might be time to assess your gambling habits.
Seek help immediately if most of the symptoms described apply to you. Acting in good time is the best possible thing you can do for your health and wellbeing of those closest to you.
What to do if you have a problem
If you're displaying signs of problem gambling or addiction, there are many avenues that can help you take a step back or get the support you need.
Depending on how severe the problem is, you should either try toning down your gambling behaviour, withdrawing completely or seeking help from professional sources.
Take a self-assessment test
Some gambling support organizations and online casinos offer a self-assessment facility which allows you to determine whether a gambling problem is present, and how severe it may be.
GamCare's self-assessment tool, for instance, walks you through 16 statements to determine your gambling risk level.
Switch on "reality checks"
"Reality checks" are notifications that appear in online casinos which remind you about your playtime. They help ensure that players are alerted about the length of their sessions on a regular basis.
Reality checks are supported by many online casino sites, most notably all casinos licensed in the UK.
Take a break or self-exclude
You can be the master of your own self and elect to take a break from gameplay when you notice you've been playing for a while. In this way, you can assert more control over the time you spend playing and the choices you make.
Online casinos are also required to offer the option of self-exclusion. You can request to be barred from accessing your player account for a length of time ranging from hours to years, and delete your account permanently too.
Block online casino and betting sites
Going a step further than self-exclusion, blocking online casino and betting sites can be done if the temptation to gamble anywhere is too strong.
You can do this by tweaking the settings on your browser or operating system. Using a password-protected website blocker or gambling-specific blocking software is a smart choice.
Gamban is the best software for blocking gambling websites. These include online casinos, sports betting, bingo, lotteries and any other form of betting.
Get your promo code for a free trial and download the software here.
When none of these methods produce the desired results or the problem is too extensive for you to handle on your own, you should seek professional support.
There are a number of organizations in Canada which provide an array of support services to problem gamblers.
A fellowship offering various resources for compulsive gamblers, including a forum, chat room, literature and a meeting finder for locations across Canada and abroad.
Gamblers Anonymous lists meetings and hotlines for each province. Get help immediately.
The equivalent of Gamblers Anonymous for relatives and friends of problem gamblers and addicts. A fellowship of men and women who are husbands, wives, partners, children or close friends and relatives of compulsive gamblers and who have been affected by their problem.
Meeting finder: https://www.gam-anon.org/meeting-directory/canada-meeting-directory/
Responsible Gaming Council
An independent non-profit organization funding gambling research and awareness programs. Responsible Gaming Council also works to improve play safeguards by researching best practices, developing standards and providing accreditation via its RG Check program.
Problem gambling apps
Getting help with problem gambling can start by downloading an app. There are two useful apps for different purposes. Both are available on Android and iOS.
Monitor Your Gambling & Urges is an introspective app that helps you recognise what feelings and situations trigger the urge to gamble and feed the problem behaviour.
GT app features a questionnaire to assess your gambling habits, gives you helpful insights and exercises and links to organizations that can provide more help.
Mobile Monitor Your Gambling & Urges (MYGU): https://www.problemgambling.ca/gambling-help/mygu-getmobile/
Gambling Therapy presents the GT app: https://www.gamblingtherapy.org/en/gambling-therapy-presents-gt-app/