Addictions experts urge caution ahead of Super Bowl
Addiction specialists in Windsor, Ont. are urging caution about the dangers of problem gambling with Super Bowl season around the corner.
According to officials at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, demand for recovery services has climbed since single-event sports betting became legal in Canada last August.
“We have noticed an uptick in people seeking services at the center,” said Chelsea Rodrigues, a counsellor at the Centre for Problem Gambling and Digital Dependency. “We have seen a dramatic shift in clients.”
Rodrigues said, “Over the last little while we've definitely seen a lot of new gamblers in terms of people who maybe didn't place sports bets in the past but feel it's a little bit more accessible and a little bit easier at this point. So we're seeing people that had never really dabbled in this before sort of exploring it and learning it and really thinking that this could be something that they'd like to spend their money on.”
According to Rodrigues, research has shown that increased exposure and accessibility tends to normalize gambling behaviour and in turn, the chances of problematic use.
“It's essentially almost impossible to escape,” Rodrigues explained.
She added, “A lot of these triggers are from seeing advertisements or signs or things outside of ourselves. And at the moment, nobody can even enjoy a sports game without seeing the betting odds and even on days like today the ability to bet on Groundhog Day. So everything is basically on the table in terms of having access to wager on.”
Rodrigues said that Super Bowl and award show seasons often prove to entice people to bet on the outcomes.
“We know the Super Bowl is coming up. This tends to be a very highly triggering time for our sports gamblers. So we just ask them to be mindful,” she said. “Ask them if they really can't sit through the game without being triggered and having those thoughts of placing a wager, maybe skipping it this year and having something else planned that day instead to distract.”
Rodrigues said free services at the Centre for Problem Gambling and Digital Dependency are available and encourages family members to join. She said the dangers of gambling are similar to other addictions, but faster — costing relationships, time and family.
“Most people feel ashamed to tell those around them that they're struggling with an addiction or with some problematic gambling urges. And we just want to advise that the best thing you can do is to talk to somebody close to you and give us a call because we can help you navigate that journey,” she said.
Rodrigues told CTV News Windsor there’s no shame in seeking support and that dialogue is encouraged.
“Sometimes loved ones spot it before the gambler themselves and they noticed that the gambler is just more distant, more distracted,” she said. “Perhaps they're spending more time on their phone.”
Rodrigues said they urge family members and loved ones of gamblers and as well gamblers themselves to come into the centre to talk to someone in order to receive help, or to create strategies for safe gambling if it has not yet veered into a problematic and addictive territory.
“Gambling can have an effect on your relationships, on your job on your mental health on your finances,” she said. “There's a number of ways in which gambling addiction can devastate someone's life but I do want to state that there is a life beyond that and we can certainly help people get back on track.”
Rodrigues added, “Gambling is a form of entertainment. So really be willing to play with what you're willing to lose.”
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