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Gamble Safe!

The popularity of gambling, as a form of entertainment, has been increasing dramatically for many years now. While most gambling doesn't hurt anyone, some people do become "hooked" on it, just as some people become "hooked" on alcohol. To help make your experience safe and more enjoyable follow these few tips.

  • Have a plan. Before you enter the casino or go online, have an idea about the kind of experience you want to have.
  • Decide how much time you want to spend at the casino or online. More importantly, decide how much money you want to spend. Decide on a loss limit ahead of time and stick to it.
  • Go with friends who will help you stay within your preset limits. A small gambling loss is the cost of a night's entertainment, just like the cost of a movie ticket or a dinner out.
  • If you lose money, never try to get it back by going over your limit, this usually leads to even bigger losses.
  • Never borrow money to gamble. When that amount is gone, the party's over. Call it a night and live to have fun another day.

Gambling is not a career or a way to get rich quick. It is not a way to escape your troubles. It's a form of entertainment. It's supposed to be fun.

With every spin of the roulette wheel, every roll of the dice, and every deal of the cards, there is that possibility that something big is right around the corner. We never know what the next few minutes will lead to, that's why it's fun, and that's why we play. Leave the credit cards at home and remember - Casinos and online gambling sites are in the business of making money.

So if you decide to gamble while it is fun, remember to stay within your limits and gamble safe!

For more information on this and other topics, contact your local Health Promotion Office.

Remote Gambling: Gambling at your Fingertips - Everywhere

Remote gambling is any form of gambling in which a person does not need to be physically present. It can be conducted from the safety of a gambler's own home, car, airplane, street corner, café, schoolroom, boardroom, or any place a remote device is operable.

What makes Remote Gambling a growing concern?

  • It is immediate - accessed from anywhere, anytime
  • It is a solitary endeavor
  • It is even more hidden than other forms of gambling
  • Others know that it is a problem only after their lives have been painfully affected

Remote gambling includes:

  • Internet sites which includes any form of betting imaginable
  • Mobile devices for text messaging and internet/web access
  • Cell phone, telephone
  • Interactive TV

Facts on Remote Gambling:

  • Internet has over 2,500 gambling sites and the number is growing daily
  • Online poker has over 400 websites and is growing daily
  • Presently there are over 5 million transactions conducted per day, or an average of about 300 bets per second
  • There is no US regulation on how the sites control payouts and percentages of payoffs. The sites could manipulate the gambler to think they are skilled and can outplay the others on the site. Once winning and playing with greater amounts of money the site could decrease the gamblers odds and take the winnings back with interest!

Attractive to persons who:

  • Want immediate access
  • Are socially shy and lack confidence
  • Prefer privacy
  • Are uncomfortable with physical nearness to others
  • Disabled and do not want to be seen as different
  • Want to decrease social barriers based on sex, race, age, disability
  • Want to be someone they are not

Remote Gambling makes the gambler feel:

  • Disinhibited - people do and say things in cyberspace that they wouldn't ordinarily say in the real world.
  • Interactive with others without face-to-face contact
  • As if they can escape and get away from the real world
  • Intelligent, skilled, and all-powerful until they start losing

Thoughts of the Remote Gambler:

  • You don't know me - anonymity
  • You can't see me - invisibility
  • See you later - don't relate in real time, wait for messages
  • It's just a game - real money does not change hands - it's all credits
  • We're equals - authority really does not exist

What Remote Gambling Provides:

  • Gratification: No waiting, instant
  • Anticipation: Removed, instant action, adrenaline rush
  • Companionship: Always there when needed
  • Fantasy: Takes you to it, change persona, gender bender
  • Expression: In a private world, more satisfying than real life
  • Ego: Boosts fragile/bruised ego
  • Constraints: Lacking boundaries. Limited only by extent of cash/credit
  • Chasing: Several times a day. PC is a beckoning finger. (Bellringer, 2006)
  • A Chance: To lose financial resources, friends, jobs, family, freedom, etc.

"Remote gambling does not include face-to-face encounters; it is solitary and unmonitored. Awareness of this problem needs to be a family matter - the people most likely to discover the gambling problem are family, friends and those closest to the gambler."

Source: National Council on Problem Gambling - document created January 2007

For more information on this and other topics, contact your local Health Promotion Office.

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The Tangled Web: Internet Addiction and You

While spending time online, have you ever glanced up at the clock and discovered that several hours have gone by since you initially logged on, rather than the 15 minutes that you intended? Are you reducing or foregoing social or occupational activities in favor of your time online? If so, you may have or may be developing an addiction to the Internet.

Internet addiction may take many forms depending on the activities pursued online. According to Wikipedia (further references are included on the page for “Internet addiction”), there are four main categories into which Internet addictions can be divided:

  1. Looking at online pornography or participating in “cyber-sex” or sexually-based Internet chat.
  2. Gaming, which can include online card or board games, arcade-type games, simulation games (e.g., The Sims), and other computer games that can be played with others over the Internet.
  3. Internet activity involving money, including gambling, shopping, online auctions, and stock trading.
  4. Internet chatting.

Internet chatting, in particular, has become a huge problem because, unlike e-mail, chat servers allow for “real-time” interaction with others, and chat rooms can be found on a great many sites on the Internet (especially on common interest sites). Another avenue for Internet chat is on the increasingly popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Finally, chatting to others over the Internet is also possible with the various live-chat or “instant messaging” programs (e.g., MSN Messenger). All of these chat formats have the ability to be forwarded to one’s mobile phone or handheld device, making it possible to be almost constantly “connected.”

According to some researchers, like Dr. David Greenfield (the founder of the Center for Internet Studies), symptoms of internet addiction can be adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM - the handbook that lists all mental health disorders) symptoms for compulsive gambling. These such things as repeated failed attempts to cut back on your time spent on the Internet, craving and needing more and more time on the Internet to get the same sense of well-being (tolerance), irritability/depression when not able to spend time on the internet (withdrawal), and increasingly difficult relationships with employers, spouses, family and friends. Spending an excessive amount of time on the Internet may also result in physical symptoms including migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, sleep disturbances, a neglect of personal hygiene, and backaches.

Re-establishing a healthy relationship with the Internet depends greatly on your individual personality. In some cases, all you may need to do is develop time management techniques to help you better control your Internet usage by setting daily limits for time spent online. In other cases, you may need to deal with any underlying reasons for your addiction, which may require the assistance of a therapist.

The Internet is a fantastic medium, dramatically improving our ability to communicate with each other and to access information, and it generally makes our lives a little easier. However, as with everything else in life, moderation is the key.

For more information on this and other topics, contact your local Health Promotion Office.



WASTED TIME? IT’S YOUR CHOICE…..Gambling and Gaming

Whether it’s wagering on line or betting at the casino, the popularity of gambling & gaming as entertainment has continued to grow in recent years.

Although most of these games are harmless, some people do get “hooked”, just as some people become dependent on alcohol. Dependence is an insidious process, which means that it happens without the player’s knowledge and against his or her will (no one wants to be dependent). So like any good thing, you have to practice moderation and ensure that the game remains that…just a game.

Guidelines for the informed player

Have a plan. Before entering the casino or logging in, be aware of the kind of experience you want to have and the time you want to devote to it. This should take into account the other responsibilities and activities of your daily life, including family, work, sleep, physical activity, etc. Minor losses at the table or spending a couple of hours gaming should correlate with the cost or time of a night at the movies or a good meal in a restaurant.

Know why you are playing. Every time the wheel turns, the dice are thrown or the cards are dealt, there’s a chance that something big will happen. One never knows what will happen in the next few minutes: that’s what makes it fun and that’s why we play. There’s also the culture associated with on-line gaming: the presence of ritual, a common language, a larger community where the participation of each player can give the feeling of being irreplaceable.

Play for the right reasons. Gambling and gaming are neither a career or a way of getting rich quick…or a way of escaping your problems. Ask yourself on a regular basis whether your gambling habits are healthy and allow you to maintain your alertness and honesty. For example, you can ask yourself: “How do I feel today?”, “Am I trying to escape an unpleasant feeling or a state of mind likes boredom, solitude, sadness, etc.?” It’s important that you cultivate variety, both in your choices of entertainment and your methods for managing stress/emotions and use those methods based on the needs of the moment.

And if playing is no longer a game? Maybe your gambling/gaming habits have changed over time or you’re worried about the habits of one of your friends. If this is the case, you can ask for help and guidance to find out how to play safely, expand your techniques for dealing with change, stress and emotions or learn how to offer effective support to someone you know who is dealing with a gambling problem.

For more information on this and other topics, contact your local Health Protection office.



Warning Signs of Online Internet Gaming

If you feel you are at risk of excessive internet gaming, here are some warning signs to consider:

  • One early warning sign of online gaming problems may include decreased interest in other activities.
  • As well, one may experience a reduced interest in achieving personal goals—this is also an indication there may be a problem.
  • If someone is unable to play, they may feel angry, depressed, or anxious.
  • When an individual is not playing, they may dream or think about gaming.
  • The commitment and responsibility for one’s guild, clan, or Internet team may seem more important than their real life commitments.
  • Further, some individuals may find it tough to abstain from playing for long periods of time.
  • There may be some physical signs of internet gaming problems as well. For example, one may have trouble sleeping, have shifts in their sleep patterns or feel constantly restless.
  • Frequent gaming may lead to skipping meals and poor personal hygiene. This could lead to weight loss, sore fingers, neck, and back, carpal tunnel syndrome, and dry eyes or red eyes.

If you feel a friend, co-worker, or family member is at risk of excessive internet gaming, here are some warning signs to consider:

  • The most obvious warning signs to notice are the behavioural ones. Co-workers may start to show decreased work performance.
  • Friends and family may gradually put less effort in tasks and responsibilities. When not working, individuals may tend to read about the game. Most conversations may also tend to be about video games, and the events that happened in game.
  • Some people may even start to neglect important responsibilities in order to continue gaming. For example, rather than saving money or spending it on groceries, extra funds may go to internet -game expenses or gaming accessories.
  • Time spent online eventually increases as they attempt to play whenever they are free. This may lead to frequent gaming ‘binges’.  For some, the task of quitting becomes too difficult. Even if the desire to do something else is strong, they may not be able to quit gaming.
  • Other signs that may be noticeable are changes in a relationship. For example, a co-worker or friend may resort to lying in order to keep playing or keep their gaming life a secret. They may even use lies to avoid going out socially with friends in order to keep playing video games.
  • Time for social responsibilities, as a friend, partner, or parent begin to be replaced with online gaming and inline friends.
  • Others may start to notice these changes, and this may lead to an individual feeling blame.

For more information on this and other topics, contact your local Health Promotion Office.