(TORONTO, ON) – With this week’s “soft-launch” of online gambling, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) is bringing the casino to your fingertips. In a few weeks, Ontarians will be able to play poker in their pajamas and blackjack on the bus, once the program finishes its trial run with registered casino customers.
The OLG is hoping to get a piece of the estimated $400 – $500 million Ontarians spend each year on grey market gambling sites not regulated by the government. They hope that regulated online gaming will deliver an extra $375 million to provincial coffers over the next five years.
“Extra income for the province is a great thing,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada. “But anytime you make gambling easier, you worry about what it will do to vulnerable Ontarians.”
Statistics Canada has found that low-income families spend a greater percentage of their income on gambling than high-income families. In their precarious financial situation, gambling is an expense that could push them off a debt cliff.
“It’s concerning because we know gambling can be addictive, and we know that the internet itself can be addictive,” adds Schwartz. “The OLG is doubling-down here and it could mean bad news for people with existing debt and gambling issues.”
The OLG has created a long list of “play management tools” that includes customized messaging based on play levels. Consolidated Credit has also put together a set of tips for gamblers to minimize risky behavior:
- Be prepared to lose: The odds are stacked against you so have a set amount of money that you are willing to, and can afford to, lose.
- Call a spade a spade: Gambling is not a get-rich-quick method, or a means to buy a house or plan for retirement. It’s a series of chance-based games that should only be played for fun, not for income.
- Play slowly: If you take frequent breaks, you can limit the amount of money you may lose. Take advantage of OLG’s built-in time limits.
- If you can’t stop, talk to someone: If you think you have a gambling problem, get help. The worst thing you can do is keep gambling to try to “win it all back”. Turn off the computer and seek out professional help from services like the Government of Ontario’s gambling helpline page or by calling them at 1-888-230-3505.
“Every dollar lost to gambling is a dollar that could be put towards paying down debt,” adds Schwartz. “Financial freedom is a pretty sweet jackpot on its own.”
About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.:
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance.
For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact:
Jacob MacDonald, Public Relations Coordinator, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041, C: 647-390-5253, F: 416-915-5200, E: [email protected], www.consolidatedcredit.ca