Impact of Ontario’s Betting Ads on Problem Gambling

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In light of the legalization and regulation of online betting in Ontario this spring, many people have seen a rise in gambling advertising.

Increasing demand for in-patient care means that Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, the only hospital in Ontario offering problem gaming care, will see more patients. Diana Gabriele, certified gambling counsellor at Hôtel-Dieu, had predicted this, and she’s seen for herself how gambling addiction has taken hold in Quebec.

“We, as counsellors, knew that with that accessibility, that ease of access, combined with technology, that people would be even more susceptible to the ravages of gambling,” she added.

“We’ve been seeing an uptick of that ever since the single sports betting came online in April.” The federal government made gambling on single sporting events legal in 2021, allowing provinces to regulate it themselves. When the sports betting industry became regulated, businesses were able to start pushing ads. The result was an onslaught of new advertising for online gambling in Ontario.

According to Gabrielle, clients were already worried even before Ontario launched the program. “We started getting people, and they were really concerned and panicked about, you know, this greater ease and accessibility to this form of gambling when it was already quite a problem for them,” she said.

Watching sporting events and betting alongside can be fun, but it still has some adverse effects on the mind, Gabriele said.”There’s like massive doses of dopamine that are released in one’s brain, and that dopamine causes a euphoric state and great feelings of excitement, and contentment and fun,” she continued. “One can easily lose sight of the money they’re spending and how deep they’re getting into the activity because there’s so much feel-good chemicals happening.”

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