New data released in October by iGaming Ontario (iGO) shows a 132 per cent increase in the number of wagers on internet gaming sites compared to the same three-month period last year.
The iGaming industry has increased its revenue by 105 per cent (over the same period last year) and has brought in a total of $540 million in one quarter from April to June 2023.
These numbers are worrying considering that more than 300,000 Canadians are at risk of gambling-related harms. Youth are particularly at risk from the harms that come with gambling.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario has called on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to take a measured approach to the regulation of iGaming to ensure the financial risks linked to iGaming and the likelihood of developing a gambling addiction are prevented.
CMHA Ontario’s recommendations include:
- Ban all gambling advertising.
- Dedicate a portion of the provincial revenue from iGaming for programs and research to reduce harms from gambling, and for support and treatment for people seeking help to reduce harmful gambling.
- Prominently display the potential harms from gambling, including its implicitly addictive nature, in all gambling-related communications.
- Enhance and scale-up community-based family and caregiver support programs for people experiencing gambling harms, including barrier-free counselling.
- Promote the evidence-based Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction that help individuals learn how to lower the risks and harms associated with gambling.
- Collect and publish demographic data on gambling and the rates of increase in gambling-related problems.
It is vital that we acknowledge the vulnerability of gambling-related harms among youth, as well as those who face mental health or economic challenges, and put appropriate measures in place to reduce the impact on these populations.