When is gambling a problem?

For the majority of individuals, gambling is a form of recreation that does not lead to negative consequences. However, for a small percentage of the population, gambling can have a negative impact on their health, family, job, emotional state and financial situation.

I often get asked how someone can progress to being $10,000 in debt from playing a slot machine in a short period of time. Here is a fictitious scenario that outlines how this progression may come about:

Online poker addiction--a losing hand

More than half of Canadians think playing Internet poker for cash is unacceptable, a new Decima poll suggests. Fifty- six per cent were against such a pastime, one-quarter had no problem with it, and the rest fell somewhere in the middle.

The poll, one of the most detailed snapshots to emerge of gambling attitudes, suggests great unease about online casinos. It also reveals a spike in public concern about addiction and lax regulation in regions where video lottery terminals are widespread.

Responsibility for VLT addiction lies with the gambler

Once again, we see, in your investigation of video-lottery terminals, the continuation of an affliction that is becoming endemic in Canada, namely, a denial and abrogation of personal responsibility. Blaming a gambling addiction on the government is simply moving the blame and responsibility from the guilty party (the problem gambler) to the innocent (the government and society).

A gambler's ultimate loss - his life

A gambler's ultimate loss - his life: Suicide was a way out. "For me, it is the end of a deep and very powerful evil in which only the machine can win."

Not all VLT addicts who seek treatment kick their habit in time.

Buried among the 100 coroners' reports detailing suicides by compulsive gamblers in this province over the past eight years are some sad accounts of VLT addicts whose attempts to overcome their compulsion were ultimately in vain.

Gambler makes himself unwelcome

Gambler makes himself unwelcome; Psychologist tries to break his addiction with self-imposed ban at casinos

If Andy Dalrymple walks into Casino Rama outside Orillia, khaki- clad security police will spot him, march him out the door and possibly slap him with trespassing charges.

And that's just the way he wants it.

"I got myself banned at every casino from here to the mighty Niagara," says Dalrymple, once a prominent psychologist who is now trying to kick a gambling addiction that dragged him toward self- destruction and turned his wife and children against him.