Ontario Psychiatrists: Is the Province's Online Gamble a Bad Bet?

Report from Ontario Psychiatrists exposes the negative ethical, social and health implications of online gambling

TORONTO, Feb. 11, 2016 /CNW/ - A concerning new report released just days after this year's Superbowl, one of the most gambled on sporting events of the year, should have the province thinking twice about its' strategy to expand online gambling in Ontario. The report from Ontario Psychiatrists points to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's (OLG) recent expansion into the online gambling space and makes strong recommendations to mitigate the serious risks for Ontario's gambling addicts.

"A small group of addicted gamblers, representing 3.3% of the population, generates one-third of OLG's profits," said Dr. Diana Kljenak, Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "This is a real concern when we look at the OLG's forecasts which predicts that by 2018 online gambling will increase OLG's annual revenue by $100 million."

The report, Online Gambling Expansion in Ontario defines addicted gambling and identifies the serious risks associated with the expansion into online gambling. Outlining the negative ethical, social and health implications, Ontario Psychiatrists list five recommendations to reduce the harms of online gambling experienced by addicted gamblers and their families:

  1. Restrict incentives and advertising on PlayOLG.ca, cease financial incentives such as the $10 registration bonus and 'Bonus Funds' and cease to list winners and amount won.
  2. Implement PlayOLG.ca website black-out periods nightly from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  3. Disallow the use of credit cards to deposit money into a player's online gambling account.
  4. Lower the current highest weekly-deposit and spending limit from $9,999 to $2,500 and implement a one-week cooling off period in the week following one in which the limit is reached.
  5. Create more prominent and direct links to addiction resources on each page or within each game, enable face-to-face counselling with health care professionals via the website.


"Lower general health and well-being, substance abuse, social problems and financial instability are only a short list of how online gambling can negatively affect the lives of the gambler and their families," said Dr. Gary Chaimowitz, Vice Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "By implementing our recommendations we will see a decrease in the number of addicted gamblers and subsequently the harm experienced by society."

About the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists: The Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists is a formal partnership of the Ontario Psychiatric Association and the Section on Psychiatry of the Ontario Medical Association. Psychiatrists provide high quality mental health services for Ontarians. The Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists represents over 1900 psychiatrists in Ontario. Formed in the late 1990s the Coalition facilitates coordination and cooperation between the Ontario Psychiatric Association and the Section on Psychiatry of the Ontario Medical Association.

SOURCE Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists

For further information: Jessica Stepic, (416)-433-8087, jessica.stepic@santishealth.ca, Santis Health

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