Protected Gambling in British Columbia

By Ben Hamill - August 04 2015

Protected Gambling in British Columbia

The provincial government of British Columbia, as part of a mandate to offer safe gambling in a protected environment, established the British ColumbiaResponsible&Problem GamblingProgram. Via its website the program provides British Columbian gamblers with free information and resources so that they can make informed choices and exhibit healthy behaviours with respect to their gambling activities.

How to Gamble

The most important aspect of gambling responsibly is to understand how gaming for real money works.

1.Understanding Gambling: Individuals turn to gambling as an activity that allows them to enjoy some fun and excitement. You never know if you are going to win or how much you’re going to win and that makes gambling even more enticing. Gambling games are influenced by chance so the outcome of the games isn’t controlled or can’t be predicted with certainty.

Gambling games are designed to favour "the house." This means that the game operator or vendor has a “house edge.” This is true for all casino games including bingo, online games, horse racing, sports, table games, card games, slot machines and lottery games. Monitoring agencies, such as the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority and the eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance Agency (eCOGRA”) supervise the games and the house edge to make sure that the house edge remains at an acceptable level and provides players with fair gaming activities.

2.The Gambling Truth: Although different games have different odds of winning and there are varying degrees of skill or influence that determine the odds of being successful when playing a game, casino games are basically games of chance. You’re more likely to lose, particularly over time, than you are to win. That’s what keeps gaming operators and vendors in business.

It’s a fallacy to think that you control gambling outcomes or a game’s odds. Such thinking can lead you to bet more money and more often than you would otherwise and can lead to bigger losses. Go ahead and enjoy the entertainment aspect of gambling activities but don’t assume that you have more chances to win than you really do. The best avenue for keeping gambling safe and fun is to decide on a bankroll before you start your casino event and stick to that budget.

Player Education Resources

There are a wide range of player education resources which have been developed by the BC Lottery corporation. These resources are designed to help you navigate your gambling activities safely and responsibly. The GameSense program was developed to provide education that empowers gamblers to prevent problems before they begin. The BC Responsible & Problem Gambling Program aims to raise awareness about problem gambling prevention.

The program involves:

  • Offering education and information for use in BC schools
  • Training student leaders and peer helpers
  • Providing information sessions for ESL classes, parent groups, college and university classes, treatment programs and community groups
  • Creating drama projects and awareness booths for seniors
  • Devising and facilitating training sessions for community professionals
  • Promoting on-campus awareness initiatives for college-aged students
  • Presenting culturally relevant gambling awareness programs for Asian, Aboriginal, South Asian and other populations

Responsible Gambling Tips

Some responsible gaming tips, offered by the GameSense program, including

1. Plan ahead and alternate your gambling hobby with other leisure activities.

2. Set a time limit to determine the amount of time you plan to gamble. Set your limit before you start and stick to your limit.

3.Budget your bankroll and stick to your pre-determined budget. Use money that you’ve set aside for entertainment and never use money that you have budgeted for food or other necessities.

4. Decide in advance how you will proceed with your winnings. Will you use them for future gambling activities or take them home?

5. Leave your debit and credit cards at home to help you stick to your pre-determined budget.

6. Consider WHY you’re playing. If you’re feelinglonely,anxiousor depressed, it might not be the healthiest time to gamble. Mental health professionals know that it’s harder to make good choices when you’re in the midst of a challenging or stressful time or if you feel anxious, depressed or in (physical or emotional) pain. Make sure that you’re not gambling to escape your problems since, if you’re not careful, you might actually make your problems worse.

7. Keep yourself involved socially. Don’t neglect your book club, your church, your weekly coffee klatch with your friends or any other social activities. You might want to combine your social life by competing against a friend or (if you’re online, checking to see who has the highest score) go to a casino with a friend. It’s a good idea to maintain a good balance between your gaming hobby and your social life.

8. Research your game. Beforeyou start to play, review the game and learn about the odds so that you can make an informed decision about how many lines to play, how much to wager, when to proceed and when to fold, etc. Build up your skill level in games that involve an element of skill and then choose those games over games of pure chance.

9. Keep track of the amount of time and the amount of money that you spend every time that you gamble. You might be unpleasantly surprised by how much money and time you’re spending on gambling and you may want to reduce your gaming activities.Create a goal and stay on track with that decision.

10. Take breaks. You’re not going to break a “winning streak” and you’re not going to start a “losing streak.” What you may do by taking a break, however, is to regain some perspective that you lost in the midst of your gaming activity. Your time away from the gaming table or away from a gaming machine allows you to check yourself and make sure that you’re still holding to your self-imposed time and budget limits.

11. Balance gambling with other activities. Gambling should not be exclusive so be sure that you continue to enjoy physical exercise and social activities. If you play for fun and win, it's nice to use that windfall for other things but it shouldn’t become your main goal.

12. Know where and how to get help. If you see that your gambling activities are getting out of hand, you can access free services through the BC Responsible & Problem Gambling Program. Contact the BC Problem Gambling Help Lineat1.888.795.6111 to access their free support services. The service is available 24/7.