Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines: Helping People in Canada Make Informed Decisions

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The Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines released by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) will help people in Canada reduce gambling-related harms. The guidelines, which are the culmination of over five years of intense research, provide evidence-informed advice about how to gamble in a lower-risk way.

The Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines are:

  • Gamble no more than 1% of household income before tax per month
  • Gamble no more than 4 days per month
  • Avoid regularly gambling at more than 2 types of games

For the Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines to be effective, people must follow all three guidelines.

“Gambling is a legal activity that can pose risks to some people in Canada, including financial hardships, relationship conflicts, emotional or psychological distress, and health issues,” explains CCSA Senior Research and Policy Analyst Dr. Matthew Young, who co-chairs the Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines Scientific Working Group that leads the project. “These guidelines will help people in Canada who gamble do so in a way that lowers their risk of experiencing these problems.”

This is the first large-scale, international, comprehensive project in the world to produce guidelines for lower-risk gambling. Developing the guidelines involved:

  • Collaborating with some of the world leaders in gambling research;
  • Analysis of data from over 60,000 people who gamble from eight different countries;
  • Feedback from over 10,000 people in Canada collected via an online gambling survey;
  • A series of interviews and focus groups with people who gamble from across Canada; and
  • Consultation with over 20 individuals who work in harm reduction, treatment and programs related to gambling.

“Until now, our best advice to people who gamble was to set personal spending and time limits,” states Dr. David Hodgins, Professor of Psychology at the University of Calgary and co-chair of the working group. “We can now provide more specific direction on what these limits should be, based upon the experiences of tens of thousands of individuals.”

To present the guidelines, CCSA has created gamblingguidelines.ca. The website provides information on the guidelines, the types of harms people can experience and populations especially at risk, and further safety tips for avoiding gambling harms. There is also a suite of resources that partners and the public can download to help promote the guidelines.

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