A Guide for Financial Counsellors - ProblemGambling.ca

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A Guide for Financial Counsellors - ProblemGambling.ca

PROBLEMA Guide for Financial CounsellorsGAMBLING

Problem Gambling:A Guide forFinancial CounsellorsA Pan American Health Organization /World Health OrganizationCollaborating CentreAffiliated with the University of Toronto

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsProblem Gambling Project staff, with the assistance of the Ontario Association of CreditCounselling Servicesisbn 0-88868-494-0Printed in CanadaCopyright © 2004 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto ONNo part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronicor mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage andretrieval system without written permission from the publisher—except for a brief quotation(not to exceed 200 words) in a review or professional work.2989/04-05

ContentsAcknowledgments 5Introduction 71 Introduction to Gambling 92 Role of the Financial Counsellor 213 Financial Counselling 334 Problem Gambling Treatment Services 455 Resources 49ontario’s specialized problem gambling services and resources 49other services 53suggested reading 566 Client Handouts 573

AcknowledgmentsThis guide builds on the knowledge and experience of the staff of theProblem Gambling Project at the Centre for Addiction and MentalHealth (CAMH) and the Ontario Association of Credit CounsellingServices. We also received input from problem gambling and creditcounsellors across Ontario who work with people affected by problemgambling.We would like to thank the following people who provided valuablefeedback to us regarding the content of this handbook.Evelyn BakichRebecca McKinleyD/Sgt Bill SwordNick RupcichSteve ChiassonEstelle ForgetNancy ChamberlainAbi SprakesCarol FraserSandra SinclairElena JaraSister Margaret Smith CentreDeloitteOntario Provincial Police, Organized CrimeSection, Illegal Gambling UnitWindsor Regional Problem Gambling ServicesPinewood CentreCredit Counselling Services of Simcoe CountyFamily Services Thunder BayFamily Services Thunder BayOntario Association of Credit CounsellingServicesCredit Counselling of Regional NiagaraCreditor Relations Specialist,Credit Counselling Service of TorontoProblem Gambling: A Guide for Financial Counsellors was produced bystaff of the Education and Publishing Department at camh.5

Other Guides in This SeriesProblem Gambling: A Guide for FamiliesProblem Gambling: The Issues, the OptionsProblem Gambling: A Guide for Helping Professionals

IntroductionThis guide is for financial counsellors working with clients who havegambling problems. Many clients who seek financial counselling arealso struggling with serious financial, emotional, health and relationshipproblems related to problem gambling. It is also likely that theywill not tell you about these problems—unless you ask.This guide has been developed to:• increase your knowledge of problem gambling and your understandingof its impact on those who gamble and their families• give you the information and tools you need to identify and supportclients with gambling problems• give you strategies to explore concerns about gambling and to promptyour clients to take appropriate action• encourage a shared-care approach between financial counsellors andproblem gambling counsellors• increase your knowledge of community supports and services that areavailable to people with gambling problems.7

1Introduction to GamblingGambling in Canada has grown at an unprecedented rate over the lastdecade and is an increasingly popular recreational activity. While gamblingwas once illegal, or viewed as a disreputable activity, social normshave shifted.Gambling is now a multi-billion dollar industry in Canada, and itsgrowth is likely to continue. Surveys indicate that the general populationfavours funding charities, health care and other important initiativesthrough the funds raised from gambling. Generally, the public prefersthis to increases in direct taxation.For some people, gambling may become a serious problem that affectsall aspects of their lives. And as gambling becomes more accessible,the number of people affected by problem gambling also increases.gambling problems: the numbers9

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsWhat Is Gambling?A person is gambling whenever he or she takes the chance of losingmoney or belongings, and when winning or losing is decided mostlyby chance.There are many different ways to gamble, including:• casino games• bingo• keno• slot machines• lottery tickets• scratch, Nevada or pull-tab tickets• betting on card games, mah-jong or dominoes• betting on horse racing• other sports betting• betting on games of skill, such as golf or pool• tombola and similar games• Internet gambling• stock market speculation.10

Introduction to Gamblingfacts about gambling in ontario• In Ontario, 83 per cent of adults report that they have gambled at leastonce in the last year—usually with lottery tickets. The vast majority ofpeople who gamble do so without problems.• Gambling in Ontario is an $8 billion entertainment business withrevenues that exceed cinema showings, movie rentals, sporting eventadmissions and live theatre combined.• Ontario has the sixth largest lottery network in North America. TheOntario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) operates 12 lotterygames through more than 10,500 retailers across the province. More than$2 billion worth of lottery tickets are sold each year. The Lotto 6/49 andLotto Super 7 alone generate sales of close to $7 million per week. TheOLGC also markets 75 types of instant tickets, and sponsors “Big LinkBingo,” which electronically links 50 communities and 170 bingo halls.• Ontario’s three commercial casinos, Casino Rama, Casino Windsor andCasino Niagara, had a combined gross income of $148 million permonth in 2002/03. These casinos also create more than 29,000 directand indirect jobs.• Since 1998, six charity casinos have opened in the province. From theseoperations, Ontario charities are guaranteed $100 million annually.• As of March 2003, 15 of 18 Ontario racetracks housed over 8,650 slotmachines, which are played by close to 40,000 patrons per day. Theproceeds from these slots, over $1 billion per year, benefit the racingindustry, track operators and local communities.11

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsWhat Is Problem Gambling?Problem gambling is not just about the loss of money—but how itcan affect the person’s whole life. Gambling is a problem when it:• interferes with work, school or other activities• leads to emotional or physical health problems• causes financial problems• harms the family or other relationships.facts about problem gambling• In Ontario, 4.8 per cent of adults (449,000 people) have moderate orsevere gambling problems. An additional 9.6 per cent (860,000 people)are classified as “at-risk” for problem gambling.• Only a small percentage of people who have gambling problems useOntario’s specialized counselling services.• The 2001 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (osdus) reported that8.3 per cent of youth were at risk for any gambling problem, and2.7 per cent were at risk for pathological gambling. Rates of pathologicalgambling increased among oac students between the 1999 osdus(1.8 per cent) and the 2002 osdus (5.7 per cent).• Men and women are equally likely to gamble, but men tend to spendmore money.• Problem gambling prevalence rates are higher for people with a historyof mental illness or substance use problems.• A 2001 survey for the Responsible Gambling Council found that one insix Ontario adults report a problem resulting from either their own oranother person’s gambling. Families may experience financial difficulty,emotional distress and physical illness.12

Introduction to Gambling• According to estimates from the United States, one person in five whoexperiences problems related to gambling will eventually file for bankruptcy(National Council on Problem Gambling and National Endowmentfor Financial Education). In a Quebec study, 28 per cent of people withsevere gambling problems had declared bankruptcy and one-third haddebts between $75,000 and $150,000. A further 35 per cent were aboutto declare bankruptcy.• A camh survey was conducted in March 2002 with 26 Ontario creditcounselling offices. Twenty-one surveys were completed. Respondentsindicated that, on average, 14 per cent of their clients had financialproblems related to gambling. The true number is likely higher, becausegambling problems are typically under-reported.Gambling problems occur along a continuum. These are not discretecategories but possible points along a range of involvement.No Casual Serious Harmful PathologicalGambling Social Social Involvement Gambling• No gambling: Some people never gamble.• Casual social gambling: Most people gamble casually, buying theoccasional raffle or lottery ticket or occasionally visiting a casino forentertainment.• Serious social gambling: These people play regularly. It is their mainform of entertainment, but it does not come before family and work.• Harmful involvement: These people are experiencing difficulties intheir personal, work and social relationships.• Pathological gambling: For a small but significant number of people,gambling seriously harms all aspects of their lives. People with gamblingproblems this severe are unable to control the urge to gamble,despite the harm it causes. These people are more likely to use gamblingto escape from problems and to get relief from anxiety.13

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsProblem Gambling Affects People DifferentlyNot all people who gamble excessively are alike, nor are the problemsthey face. People with gambling problems are found in all age groups,income groups, cultures and jobs. Some people develop gamblingproblems suddenly, others over many years. There are many reasons whya gambling problem may develop. For example, some people developproblems when they try to win back money they have lost, or becausethey like to be “in the action.” Others have many life stresses that makegambling a welcome relief.Risk FactorsThere are risk factors that can contribute to the development of gamblingproblems or make it more difficult to stop. People are more atrisk if they:• have an early big win (leading to false expectations of future wins)• have easy access to their preferred form of gambling• hold mistaken beliefs about the odds of winning• do not take steps to monitor gambling wins and losses• have had a recent loss or change, such as divorce, job loss, retirementor death of a loved one• often feel bored or lonely, or have a history of risk-taking or impulsivebehaviour• have financial problems• have few interests or hobbies, or feel their lives lack direction• have a history of mental health problems, particularly depression andanxiety• have been abused or traumatized• have a parent who also has (or has had) problems with gambling• have (or have had) problems with alcohol or other drugs, gamblingor overspending• tie their self-esteem to gambling wins or losses.The more factors that apply, the more likely a person is to develop agambling problem.14

Introduction to GamblingRisk GroupsResearch into gambling problems suggests that some groups may bemore at risk of developing problems or may experience greater harmbecause of their gambling behaviour.youthResearch shows that teens are twice as likely as adults to have gamblingproblems. Easy access to gambling, its wide acceptance as a way to havefun, the perception that it is a quick way to a good life and the elementof risk make gambling attractive to teens. The social, educational andemotional consequences are serious. Gambling in teens is correlatedwith poor academic and vocational performance, mental health problems,problems with alcohol or other drugs and high-risk behaviour.Long-term studies are not yet available to tell us if gambling in youthbecomes a life-long problem.older adultsMore seniors are gambling today than ever before. The gamingindustry has recognized older adults as an important market and hasintroduced special promotions, cheap transportation and free lunchesto encourage seniors to visit local casinos. Seniors enjoy gamblingand report feeling safe in the brightly lit and well-supervised settings.Statistically, older adults are less likely to gamble and are at lower riskof developing gambling problems. When gambling is a problem, however,the consequences are often more severe, because seniors are lessable to replace lost savings. Seniors who have recently lost a loved one,have health problems or who lack a strong social network or alternativework or leisure activities may be more at risk of experiencing problemsif they choose to gamble.15

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial Counsellorsnew immigrantsResearch suggests that recent immigrants may be at increased risk fordeveloping gambling problems because of the stress of immigration,weakened social and familial relations, loneliness and isolation, financialdifficulties, employment challenges, language and cultural barriers or adesire to achieve rapid financial success. Cultural factors shape beliefsabout money and gambling; these beliefs need to be asked about, understoodand factored into the counselling relationship.Impact of Problem GamblingPeople with moderate to severe gambling problems can experienceserious social, emotional, financial and health consequences including:• significant financial loss• work-related difficulties including lower productivity, higher absenteeismand job loss• higher rates of emotional or health problems including depression,anxiety and problems with alcohol or other drugs• higher rates of suicide• higher rates of marital and family breakdown• engaging in illegal activities to support their gambling.People who gamble excessively will sometimes seek help for thefinancial, employment, relationship or health problems caused bytheir gambling without addressing the root cause of their problems.When the gambling behaviour is not addressed, these other problemsoften continue or worsen.16

Introduction to Gamblingimpact on familiesJust as there are differing levels of gambling problems, families arealso affected in various ways and to differing degrees. Because gamblingcan be hidden for a long time, many families are shocked when thefull impact of the gambling loss is discovered. While some families areable to recover, not all are able to survive gambling problems. Ratesof separation and divorce are significantly higher than in the generalpopulation.Here are some common problems that families face:Financial CrisisThe most common negative effect is serious financial loss. Problemsmay first appear as a sudden money crisis. Savings, property or belongingsmay be lost. Excessive spending on gambling often means thatbills are not paid, utilities are cut off and money for necessities such asgroceries is in short supply.Emotional Difficulties and IsolationIntense emotions within families are common and may make problemsolvingdifficult. Families may feel helpless and unable to see solutionsto their problems. The person who gambles may even deny that thereis a problem.Isolation is another problem:• Many partners do not want to be emotionally or physically close withthe person they no longer trust.• Many families and people who gamble avoid those who normally givethem love and support because they feel ashamed.• Friendships may end because of unpaid debts, causing family conflict.17

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsHealth ProblemsThe stress of gambling may cause health problems, both for the personwho gambles and the family. Common problems include anxiety,depression and stress-related disorders such as difficulty sleeping,ulcers, irritable bowel, eating disorders, headaches, muscle aches andpains. Compared to the general population, people who gamble andtheir spouses are more likely to have problems with alcohol or otherdrugs. They are also three times more likely to attempt suicide.BurnoutMany families under stress have trouble coping. One family membermay try to keep things under control by taking on more tasks. Thiscan lead to emotional and mental fatigue. The family can become sofocussed on the person who gambles that they forget to take care ofthemselves or have fun.Impact on ChildrenWhen a parent or caregiver has a gambling problem, children can feelforgotten, neglected, depressed and angry. They may believe theycaused the problem and that if they are “good,” the problem will stop.Some take on parenting roles, to compensate for the missing parent.They may feel forced to take sides between fighting parents. Othersmay become depressed or get into trouble at school. Children ofadults with gambling problems are two times more likely to attemptsuicide and often have lower grades than their peers. They are morelikely to have problems with alcohol and other drugs than their peersand more likely to engage in illegal activity as a way of drawing attentionaway from their parents. Children may need help to understandthat the problems in the family are not their fault and to return to thenormal tasks of childhood. You may want to consider referring theclient and his or her family to a specialized family counselling service.18

Introduction to GamblingOlder Adults May Be at RiskThe person who gambles may demand money from older familymembers. He or she may also abuse power of attorney, misappropriatefunds, steal possessions or force changes to the will in order togain access to money or to pay off debts.Physical and Emotional AbuseViolence is more common when families are in crisis. Gamblingproblems can lead to emotional and physical abuse of a partner, elderparent or child. Children may be hurt by the person who gambles orby the partner who releases his or her pent-up anger and frustration.If you suspect neglect, or emotional or physical abuse, you are obligatedunder the Child Welfare Act to report your suspicions to the appropriateauthority.Depression and AnxietyBoth people with gambling problems and their families are at risk foranxiety and depression. Watch out for the signs and symptoms ofdepression and take steps to link the client to treatment.Symptoms of depression include:• loss of interest in usual activities• feeling depressed, lethargic and more irritable• changes in sleep (e.g., problems falling asleep, staying asleep or sleepingtoo much)• changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain• feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and despair• difficulty thinking, remembering and slowed thoughts• guilty ruminations and obsessing over real or perceived problems• loss of interest in sex• physical fatigue, or agitation and restlessness• thoughts of suicide.19

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsRisk of SuicidePeople who gamble excessively and their families have higher rates ofsuicide. The risk of suicide increases for people who also have mentalhealth problems or problems with alcohol or other drugs. People whohave threatened suicide or have a history of self-harm are also moreat risk.Clients may have thoughts of suicide if they:• talk about suicide and say they have a plan• show changes in behaviour, appearance or mood• seem depressed, sad or withdrawn• give away prized personal objects• prepare for death by making a will or telling final wishes.Steps to take:• Stay calm and listen carefully to better understand what is happening.• Let them talk about their feelings. Accept what they are saying withoutpassing judgment or trying to solve their problem.• Ask clients specifically if they are feeling suicidal and have a plan.• Take all suicide threats seriously.• Encourage clients to remove any available means of self-harm (e.g.,firearms, medications).• Direct clients to the nearest emergency department for assessment,or encourage them to get professional help from a crisis centre, counselloror doctor.• Do not promise to keep the person’s suicidal thoughts confidential.20

2Role of the FinancialCounsellorPeople affected by gambling problems are likely to contact the financialsector well before seeking counselling for a gambling problem.They may be asking your help to consolidate or relieve debt in orderto continue gambling. Despite the enormity of their financial andsocial losses, these clients may still see gambling as the solution totheir current problems and not the cause.The financial counsellor is not expected to diagnose or treat gamblingproblems and the decision to address a gambling problem rests withthe client. You can, however, play a vital role and prevent further harm:• Link the client to problem gambling counselling.• Help the client gain insight into how gambling has contributed to hisor her financial crisis and how continued gambling is likely to makethe situation worse.• Work with the client to identify ways to resolve financial concernsthat may be a source of pressure, thus reducing the client’s urge togamble further.This section looks at how to screen for gambling problems. With a greaterunderstanding of problem gambling and effective counselling strategies,you can help your clients achieve the best financial outcomes.21

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial Counsellorshow you can help• Make it routine practice to talk about gambling with every personseeking your assistance.• Establish a rapport that invites disclosure and motivates change.• Be alert to the signs and indicators of problem gambling.• Make information on problem gambling available and link people tospecialized services.• Explore clients’ concerns and provide accurate information aboutproblem gambling counselling, emphasizing the benefits of counselling.• Help clients develop workable budgets and manage their debts in waysthat relieve financial pressure. This reduces an important gamblingtrigger.• Help clients and their families protect their remaining assets fromfurther gambling losses.Screening for Problem GamblingWhen gambling is the underlying cause of the financial problemsand this issue is not identified and addressed, it is likely to cost thefinancial counselling agency time, money and credibility with creditors.Talking about gambling debts can be difficult for both the client and thefinancial counsellor. Shame, embarrassment or fear may keep peoplewho gamble from revealing the true nature of their financial problems.But dealing only with the financial consequences of gambling will dolittle to address the underlying problem. The challenge is to providea safe and supportive environment that will facilitate disclosure, allowyou to address financial concerns and link clients to appropriate help.22

Role of the Financial CounsellorTalking about gambling will be easier if you make screening for gamblingproblems part of your standard assessment process. Experienced creditcounsellors recommend asking key exploratory questions as part of theinitial assessment process—before you begin the financial review.• What has led you to come here today?• What do you expect to get from us?• How have you tried to solve this problem?This is an effective way to determine what factors have contributed tothe client’s financial problems (including gambling). It can also setthe stage for future counselling.Signs of Gambling ProblemsGambling problems share many similarities with other addictive disorders.However, there are no visible signs or physical changes thatwill indicate a gambling problem.Here are the common signs of problem gambling that financial counsellorsmay identify during the assessment and counselling process.While you may see individual symptoms in clients who do not havegambling problems, when a client exhibits a large number of signs—and an overall pattern of problems—the possibility that gambling is aproblem should be explored further.financial clues• Frequent and consistent cash advances (including withdrawals fromcasinos, bingo halls or racetracks) appear on the client’s credit ordebit card statement.• The client’s income and expense sheets do not tally. The client’sincome appears adequate to address declared living expenses and debtlevels cannot be explained.23

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial Counsellors• The client has a previous history of good financial management skillsand debt has appeared suddenly.• The client has taken on extra jobs with no obvious relief in level ofdebt. The client is exhausting all avenues open to getting money.• The client is secretive and bad-tempered when discussing money.• The client withholds bank and credit card statements or is reluctantto fully disclose the extent or cause of debts.• The client has extensive personal debt acquired through borrowingon credit cards, bank loans or loans from family and friends. Theclient only reveals multiple loans from family, co-workers and friendswhen asked about them directly.• The client uses multiple credit cards for cash advances or to payhousehold bills.• The client has cashed in or missed payments on RRSPs and insuranceplans, liquidated investments or savings funds, renegotiatedmortgages to pay debts, or defaulted on personal loans or mortgages.The more of these signs clients exhibit, the more likely it is that gamblingproblems are causing their financial difficulties.other cluesThrough discussions with clients and their partners you may be ableto identify other emotional or behavioural clues that suggest gamblingis a concern. Here are some common signs of gambling problems.Emotional CluesThe client:• withdraws from family and friends• seems far away, anxious or has difficulty paying attention• has mood swings and sudden outbursts of anger• complains of boredom or restlessness• seems depressed or suicidal.24

Role of the Financial CounsellorTemporal CluesThe client:• is often late for work or school• is gone for long, unexplained periods of time• neglects personal responsibilities.Behavioural ChangesThe client:• stops doing things he or she previously enjoyed• misses family events• changes patterns of sleep, eating or sex• ignores self-care, work, school or family tasks• has conflicts over money with other people• uses alcohol or other drugs more often• leaves children alone, seems less concerned about who looks afterthem, neglects their basic care• thinks and talks about gambling all the time• has more stress-related health problems (headaches, stomach andbowel problems)• is less willing to spend money on things other than gambling• cheats or steals to get the money to gamble or pay debts• has legal problems related to gambling.Beliefs about MoneyPeople who gamble excessively share many erroneous beliefs aboutmoney that support their spending. These may include:• money lost through gambling is not “lost” and, with time, it will bewon back• gambling is a good “investment” and persistence will eventually pay off• gambling is a quick and easy way to “earn” money• if you gamble enough, you will eventually win• past gambling losses indicate that a win is due• debts can only be paid off as a lump sum.25

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsAsking about GamblingIt is rarely helpful to ask directly “Are you having a problem with gambling?”Some clients may not have insight into how their problemsare associated with gambling. For other clients, this blunt approachmay lead to a defensive response and leave the client unwilling toexplore the issue further.There are, however, a number of places that gambling questions can beincluded as a routine part of the credit counselling assessment process.• When reviewing expenses, include a specific line item for gambling.Ask clients: “How often do you play bingo, buy lottery tickets or playcasino games?” (Many people do not think of lottery tickets or bingoas gambling so you will have to ask about them specifically).• Ask about recreational activities: “What do you do for fun? Do you go tothe movies, night clubs or the race tracks?” “Do you ever go to casinosor other gambling venues?” “How much time and money do you spendon these activities?” Avoid moral judgments. When asking questions,assume that your client participates in some type of gambling.• If you identify gambling as a concern, ask about debts to employers,family, friends, co-workers, casinos, bookies or loan sharks. Explorethe terms of loans to determine if there are any imminent financialstresses. When clients feel the need to get money quickly, this cantrigger further gambling.• Determine whether clients have received lump sum payments suchas pensions, inheritance or cash payments from lawsuits or insurancesettlements. This will help you to better understand how muchmoney has gone into gambling.• Ask clients how much money they have wagered and lost, but rememberthat they may not have an accurate tally.• Ask clients if they have cashed in investments, RRSPs or savings tocover debts. Ask about recent loans or lines of credit.• Consider using the Canadian Problem Gambling Index in yourscreening process. It can be found in the Client Handouts section ofthis guide.26

Role of the Financial Counsellor• If you suspect that a client is having problems with gambling, keeprelevant print information on gambling counselling in the client’s fileand offer information at opportune times.when the numbers tell the storyIf clients do not disclose that they are having problems with gambling inthe initial assessment, take time to review their financial information.Although clients may have a good understanding of personal financesand a history of sound fiscal management, their levels of debt may behard to explain. Look for gaps in financial reporting. People who gambleare good at hiding their debt and tend to minimize, generalize or overlookexpenses. Keep asking questions until you have all the information.Most experienced financial counsellors are able to spot patterns inspending and see that the numbers just do not add up. This informationcan be used as a means of exploring gambling. For example:“When I go over the financial information you have provided, thenumbers do not add up. Can you help me understand what is missing?”“Sometimes recreational gambling uses up more money than peoplerealize and they are uncomfortable sharing this information. Could this bethe case for you?”“Sometimes, people in financial situations similar to yours are involved ingambling. Does this fit for you?”Beginning to deal with the reality of their financial losses providesclients with an opportunity to link gambling to their current problemsand to consider making changes in their behaviour. If they are not yetinterested, tell them you can discuss the matter in the future, if theywish. Consider providing them with print information on problemgambling services and Low-Risk Gambling. The following two handoutsfound in the Client Handouts section of this guide may be helpful:“Winning Ways to Keep Gambling Safe” and “Finding Help”.27

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsEngaging the Client to Seek HelpWhen the client’s financial situation has become unmanageable, itmay be appropriate for the financial counsellor to become more activein finding solutions to the client’s problem. The challenge is to balancecounsellor assistance with building client control and accountability.Problem gambling experts have identified a number of counsellingprinciples and best practices that are particularly effective in dealingwith gambling problems and can complement the credit counsellingprocess.motivating client changeHelping to build motivation to change is an important aspect of counselling.Gamblers struggle with conflicting motivations. They may wantto stop gambling, but may not want to give up the hope of the big win.They may still see gambling as a solution to their problems or fear theemptiness of life without it.Motivational interviewing helps clients to recognize their problemswith gambling—and do something about them. Through gentleexploration and presentation of facts, counsellors guide clients totheir own conclusions. Motivational principles include:Express EmpathyA respectful and compassionate approach helps to facilitate openness:“You must be feeling overwhelmed with all the challenges you are facing.How have you managed for so long?”Through the interview process, acknowledge the challenges clientsare facing and the efforts they have made to resolve their problems.Accept ambivalence towards change as normal.28

Role of the Financial CounsellorHelp the Client See the Consequences of GamblingCreate a discrepancy between continued gambling and achievingimportant goals identified by the client, such as getting out of debt orimproving family relations and health.“I don’t understand. You’ve said that it is important for you to get outof debt. You’ve also said that playing the slots is costing you X dollars aweek on average. Where is that money going to come from?”It is important that the counsellor use a non-judgmental tone whenpointing out these discrepancies. If clients feel attacked or confronted,they may withdraw or become defensive. Try to assume a“not knowing” stance.• Use clients’ financial numbers to discuss the negative impact ofgambling.• Provide alternatives to gambling for resolving financial problems.Avoid Arguments• Arguments do not help and can lead to defensiveness.• Provide information so that clients can draw their own conclusionsand identify their own reasons for change.• If your approach isn’t working, change it.• Labelling the client as a “problem gambler” is not helpful or necessary.Roll with ResistanceAccept their right to choose:“You may decide on balance after our discussion that you would rathercontinue as you are. That is your choice. Should you wish to work onthese problems, I am here to help.”29

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsSupport Self-Efficacy• Help clients identify financial solutions and negotiate with creditors.• Tell clients that you believe that they can change, cope and overcomeobstacles without gambling. Point out examples of success.• Match your intervention to the client’s stage of change (see below).Stages of ChangePeople with addiction problems such as problem gambling go throughsimilar stages in accepting the need for change. This can be a long process,with frequent changes in motivation and high levels of ambivalence.Financial or gambling problems are difficult to resolve unless there isa commitment by the client to make necessary changes. By the timethey reach the financial counsellor’s office the negative consequencesof gambling are being felt and the client may be accepting of the needfor change. Others may be forced to see you by family or creditorsbefore they accept the need for or are serious about making changes totheir gambling behaviour. Financial counsellors can have more influenceif they understand and match their support to the client’s stage ofchange listed below. This approach is also widely used by addictionsand problem gambling counsellors.Not Interested in Change• Provide feedback on the impact of gambling on the client’s finances.• Encourage the client to reflect on why others may think the client hasa problem.• Provide information on problem gambling counselling.• Support the family in reducing financial risk and in seeking help.• Avoid arguing with the client—it will not help. Leave the door openfor future assistance.30

Role of the Financial CounsellorContemplating Change• Explore the pros and cons of continuing to gamble as a financial strategy.• Link current and past financial difficulties to gambling choices.• Provide options for resolving financial problems beyond gambling.• Praise the client for thinking about change and give informationabout problem gambling counselling.• Provide educational materials on gambling risk factors and triggersprovided in appendices.Preparing for Change• Encourage the client’s commitment to change. Provide informationon treatment and link to support services.• Include the client in problem solving and support them in takingresponsibility for choices and change.• Provide financial options outlining the pros and cons of the variouscourses of action.• Assist the client in developing a budget and debt repayment plan thatrelieves financial pressure.• Support the client in finding help managing their money. Suggestthat a trusted person take control of the client’s finances.Taking Action• Link client to counselling. Encourage couple or family therapy to addressrelationship issues and build supports.• Prepare a repayment plan and budget to relieve the financial pressuresthat may trigger further gambling.• If the client decides to continue gambling at some level, provideinformation on low risk gambling.• Praise the client’s progress and efforts to change.• Acknowledge that slips do happen. Encourage the development ofrelapse prevention skills to identify and avoid gambling triggers.• Reinforce the negative financial consequences of not meeting repaymentplan or acquiring further debt.• Support strategies that stabilize the family’s finances.• Encourage the client to restore financial and lifestyle balance.(Adapted from the work of Prochaska and DiClemente.)31

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsUse a “Shared Care” ApproachTo best help clients with gambling problems, credit counsellors andproblem gambling counsellors should work together and deliver consistentmessages. Here are some ways you can help make this happen:• Contact the problem gambling service providers in your communityand get to know the staff.• Learn about problem gambling services, including referral processes,counselling approaches and available resources.• Negotiate a quick response to referral requests to each other’s services.• Reduce overlap by clearly defining what services each professionalprovides.• Establish clear and frequent communication on individual cases asrequired.• Make print materials on each other’s services readily available toclients.• Define ‘key messages’ to enhance consistency in approach.• Hold reciprocal in-service educational activities.• Offer credit-counselling clinics—that include problem gambling counsellors—tothe public.• Explore opportunities for joint media and community educationactivities.32

3Financial CounsellingClients who gamble often need special financial advice. Usually, financialcounsellors advise that clients pay off debts as quickly as possible. Thiscan be achieved through debt consolidation or by borrowing money.When gambling is an issue, this approach should be considered withcaution. People who are caught up in gambling are often accustomedto operating in the short-term, financially and otherwise. They arelikely to access services when financial pressures are most intense. Ifthose pressures are relieved, even temporarily, their motivation towork on their gambling problem may suffer and they may feel free toreturn to gambling. Manageable repayment of gambling debts, notimmediate debt relief, should be the key priority. Working towardsreducing debt can help reduce a trigger to gamble.The burden of gambling debt and the lack of money to continue togamble can help clients accept responsibility for the problems theirgambling has caused—and reinforce the need for future control. Themost successful outcomes are achieved when clients work throughtheir debts, in tandem with problem gambling counselling.33

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsBuild a Workable BudgetCreating a workable budget helps clients and their families get theirfinances in order. Money can be directed where it is most needed.Debts can be prevented from piling up further. This can also reducetriggers for continued gambling, such as harassment by creditors andhousehold financial worries—stresses that sometimes lead clients toseek relief through the very means that created the difficulties in thefirst place.For some clients, financial pressures other than gambling may alsobe causing budget problems. The family may be living beyond itsmeans. Lifestyle adjustments may be required to bring spending inline with income. Spending habits may need to be carefully reviewedby both partners. Sometimes people who live with a person who gamblesspend irresponsibly out of anger or fear that the money will belost to gambling. They may also resent having to downgrade theirlifestyles because of debts. Expect disagreements over which debtsshould be repaid first.Savings and InvestmentCreating savings and investment goals gives the client and thefamily something positive to work towards, rather than merely diggingtheir way out of debt. A positive experience in managing money mayalso encourage the client to stick with his or her recovery efforts.Encourage the family to put extra sources of income such as year-endbonuses and income tax refunds towards savings or investment goalsrather than debt reduction. Counsel clients to secure their savings in amanner that will not tempt them to access funds for further gambling.Build small financial—but not gambling-related—rewards for successesinto the household budget.34

Financial CounsellingMonitor SpendingEncourage clients to monitor gambling spending as part of the budgetprocess. This technique is also used in problem gambling counsellingto help connect gambling urges to financial worries. For people who areunwilling to stop gambling, this can serve as a useful tool for realisticallyassessing the cost of gambling and help them build motivation tostop, modify or reduce their gambling. The Self-Monitoring Tool can befound in the Client Handouts.Restore BalanceClients may be motivated to take on a second job in order to quicklyrepair the financial damage caused by their gambling. This can be helpfulin demonstrating responsible behaviour, restoring trust and avoidingfurther borrowing. To recover from a gambling problem, however,clients also need to restore balance in their lives. This includes strikinga healthy balance between work, family and leisure pursuits—not justreplacing gambling with work.Develop a Debt Management Planprepare a list of creditorsPeople who have lost a great deal of money gambling may be reluctantto acknowledge all of their debts, or they may have forgotten some ofthem. They may have taken out cash advances or loans, withdrawnmoney from savings accounts, stolen from family vacation funds orchildren’s educational funds. Creditors may also include bookies andgambling establishments, friends, family members, employers andco-workers. Where possible, these loans should also be structured intoa debt management plan.Creating a plan to repay debts gradually over an extended period oftime helps the client feel a sense of success and accomplishment inregaining financial control.35

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsClients should consider declaring to creditors the reason for theirfinancial difficulties. This can help explain the high levels of debt andalert creditors to the risk of potential relapse. Ending the secrecy mayalso help clients to accept what has happened.When creating repayment plans:• Encourage clients to make getting help for their gambling problempart of their repayment plan.• Encourage clients to take an active role in identifying solutions to theirfinancial difficulties.• The goal should not be to seek quick debt relief but to gain time tomake restitution.• Establish a consistent debt repayment plan that is within the client’smeans. Financial pressures can trigger further gambling. If the repaymentplan is unachievable, it can hasten relapse.Financial strategies that may not be helpful include:• Refinancing a mortgage.• Taking out a debt consolidation or home equity loan.• Increasing a line of credit.• Borrowing from others to pay gambling debt.• Borrowing from retirement accounts.Financial strategies that are helpful:• Asking credit card companies to reduce the interest charged on debtor to forgive outstanding interest on credit card debt after the principalhas been paid. If the client has already paid back more than the moneyborrowed, negotiate for debt relief.• Requesting creditors waive late fees and penalties.• Negotiating a reasonable reduced repayment schedule.• Closing all credit card accounts.36

Financial CounsellingA hallmark of problem gambling is that gambling expenses takeprecedence over all other financial commitments including suchbasics as food and rent. Encourage your clients to view the welfareof their families as the first priority, and payment of gambling debtsas the last spending priority.Proposal to CreditorsIf creditors are already taking action to garnishee wages, seize assets, orif credit counselling services cannot negotiate a Debt ManagementProgram, the client may qualify to make a “consumer proposal” underthe Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. This is a formal proposal thatprohibits creditors from commencing or continuing any action forcollection while the proposal is being considered.In most consumer proposals, creditors are offered a percentage of thedebt over a specified period of time. Once the majority of creditorsapprove the proposal, it is legally binding on all parties. The client mustparticipate in two mandatory counselling sessions that teach basicmoney management skills and help identify the causes of the client’sfinancial difficulties. The consumer proposal is one way to resolve theclient’s financial difficulties without declaring bankruptcy.BankruptcyIn the absence of problem gambling counselling, clients may viewbankruptcy as an easy way out of their gambling debts. While it canbe a solution in the short term, it may fail to address the underlyingfactors that led to the gambling problem. Bankruptcy should be arehabilitation process, so it is important to help your clients understandwhy it has happened.37

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsStudies have shown that four out of five people who file for bankruptcyfall back into financial trouble within a few years. As a result,the bankruptcy laws were changed. Like clients who make consumerproposals, clients who file for bankruptcy are also required to attendtwo mandatory counselling sessions. After the second counsellingsession, clients might also be referred to counselling for non-budgetarycauses of the bankruptcy (including gambling, or problems with alcoholand other drugs).Financial counsellors may also help their clients by referring them forcounselling or, if necessary, by using the provisions of the dischargeprocess to prompt or require clients to seek counselling for their gamblingproblems. Under current bankruptcy legislation, clients whohave brought on or contributed to bankruptcy by gambling may receivean opposition to discharge and some type of conditional or suspendeddischarge. This may motivate the client to seek counselling for thegambling problem, in order to alleviate or reduce the discharge penalty.In some cases, the court may order counselling as a condition of thedischarge.Explore the benefits and costs of bankruptcy with your client to determinethe most appropriate course of action. Problem gambling counsellorsreport that bankruptcy can be helpful in the recovery process bymaking it more difficult for a person who gambles to obtain credit cardsor loans from financial institutions for an extended period. It alsoreduces the client’s urge to gamble to repay debts. Relieving debt canhelp diminish the client’s sense of hopelessness and reduce suicidalideation. Of course, bankruptcy will also compromise a person’s financialrecord for years, which may make financial recovery more difficult.38

Financial CounsellingDealing with Loan SharksClients with gambling problems may have borrowed money from loansharks. A loan shark is someone who lends money at illegally high ratesof interest. Because loan sharking is against the law, there is no standardapproach to helping clients who have borrowed money in this way.Law enforcement officers make the following points about loan sharks:• Loan sharking is a criminal offence.• There is a huge potential for violence.• Clients involved with loan sharks should contact the police.The client may be reluctant to contact the police. If that is the case:• Be cautious when addressing this issue with your clients. These situationsare unpredictable. Different loan sharks will deal with non-payment ofloans in different ways. Some will quickly resort to threats and violence;others will not. Explore the conditions of the loan and the risk that theloan shark will resort to violence if payments are not met.• It may not be safe to simply ignore these debts. This is an illegal activityand loan sharks will deal with non-payment of loans however they want.Even though the client may feel that his or her loan shark is not a violentperson, law enforcement officials report that loan sharks often selloutstanding debts to others who may act in more violent ways. It isimportant to inform the client that there is no guarantee that violencewill not occur.• Be aware that it is possible that you, your agency or both could be heldlegally responsible if a client is injured by a loan shark while followingan action plan that directs the client to negotiate repayment. Documentyour assessment of the risk, any action plans that were developed andany intervention that was made.Some loan sharks may be willing to negotiate a repayment plan. Problemgambling counsellors and experienced gamblers report that loan sharksoften recognize that they are engaging in an illegal activity and do notwant to bring unwanted attention to their business. In many cases, theyjust want the debt to be paid.39

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsClosing this door to accessing money could also be important from aproblem gambling counselling perspective. By stressing the violentpotential of loan sharks to the client, you may discourage them fromborrowing further from the loan shark.Problem Gambling Is a Family ProblemConsider including the client’s partner in the financial discussions.The partner can provide valuable information about the scope of theclient’s debt and help minimize further financial losses as the clientgains control. There may also be shared debt that needs to be resolvedtogether.Many partners are unaware that gambling is a problem until there isa financial crisis. Clients may have hidden debt, stolen money or hadsecret gambling funds. Clients may not want their partners to knoweverything that is going on financially. Try to balance the idea thatsecrecy enables gambling with the need to build trust and yourresponsibility to respect confidential information.emotions can run highReviewing the family’s financial situation can be an agonizing experiencefor the person who gambles and his or her partner. This maybe the first time the client has acknowledged the full extent of his orher gambling losses. For his or her partner, there will likely be aresulting loss of trust and high levels of anger and frustration. Thiscan be a challenge for the financial counsellor.Take the time to provide information, support and encouragement sothat both parties can feel more comfortable seeking counselling. Thisstep can be taken with or without the person who gambles. When afamily member seeks help, this often instills hope and clears a pathfor the person who gambles to take action.40

Financial Counsellingfamilies may want to repay debtsFamilies may be willing to help by paying off the gambling debts.This approach is risky. With the money pressure off, the client mayreturn to gambling knowing that if they get into trouble someone willbail them out. Some families may feel the need to pay debts to protecttheir reputations or to help other family members hurt by the client’sactions. Advise families to consider their own financial securitybefore taking this step.If the family decides to give the client money, a contract may be writtenand money may be considered a loan to be paid back, even if it is only asmall weekly payment. Families may also consider paying debts directlyrather than giving the money to the person who gambles, as access tocash may trigger further gambling. You may also encourage families toconsider tying financial support to the client’s getting professional help.protect the family financesFinancial counsellors may encourage families to take steps to protecttheir remaining and future assets from further loss. The steps a familytakes will depend on many things, including their emotional and financialcircumstances and the client’s stage of change. If the client is workingactively to make changes and collaborating with family members,strategies will be different than if he or she is still gambling excessively.It is important that the person who gambles remain an active participantin financial decision-making. It may, however, be advisable to restricttheir access to money until they have control over their gambling.Whenever possible, encourage the person who gambles to ask for thiskind of help, as part of a collaborative family effort, rather than merelytaking control away. If family members need to take steps to protecttheir assets, you should support their efforts.41

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial Counsellorsways to protect family finances• The family should start by taking careful inventory of its financialsituation and identify which debts are shared and which belong onlyto the person who gambles.• Have the partner, a trusted person or a professional trustee assumetemporary responsibility for financial management and household billpayment. It is helpful for people who gamble to stay involved in financialdecisions without having signing authority. This way, they may re-learnfiscal responsibility, while protecting themselves from urges to gamble.• Arrange for the client’s pay cheques to be deposited directly into his orher partner’s bank account or another secure account. Automaticdeposits work best because the client never sees the money.• Arrange for automatic bill payments through the secured account.• Give the person who gambles an agreed-upon weekly allowance.Monitor spending patterns.• Cancel all credit cards and stop all lines of credit. Get writtenconfirmation that the accounts are closed.• Write to the bank, and request that it cut off credit and deny requests toremortgage the family home.• Place valuables in a safety deposit box that cannot be accessed bythe person who gambles.• Transfer ownership of the home, cars, boats, vacation property or otherpersonal property into the non-gambling partner’s name or a trustedthird party. Post-nuptial and other written agreements outlining the assettransfer and terms of the agreement should be drawn up. Seek legaladvice before taking this step.• Take steps to protect retirement funds, pension plans, children’seducation funds, cash value within life insurance policies andinheritances.• Throw away applications for loans and credit cards that come inthe mail.• Ask to have the client’s name removed from direct mailings fromgambling establishments.42

Financial CounsellingYou can help the client’s family identify ways to manage or reorganizethe debt for which it is responsible. The family may also need to getlegal advice to help sort out which debts belong to the family (e.g.,co-signed loans) and which belong to the person who gambles.voluntary self-exclusion programAnother step that may reduce further risk is to have the person whogambles apply for the Self-Exclusion Program offered by the OntarioLottery and Gaming Corporation. Only the person who gambles cantake this step. The person will be removed from the marketing lists,and barred from entering casinos and slot machine facilities at racetracks.The program is not always successful in keeping people out ofthese facilities if they want to get in, but if they are caught trying tore-enter, trespassing charges may be laid. The fear of being chargeddoes deter some people.43

4Problem GamblingTreatment ServicesThere are many reasons why people with gambling problems don’tget help. Recent Ontario research has revealed that many people inneed of help are unaware that specialized problem gambling counsellingservices are available. Others initially refuse help because theyare ambivalent about giving up their gambling, fear what may happenin counselling or are afraid of being stigmatized. Still others have notmade the connection between their current financial difficulties andtheir gambling behaviour.As a financial counsellor, you can help your clients by addressing theseconcerns and providing accurate information about what happens inproblem gambling counselling and what services are available.Share the CareProblem gambling counselling requires specialized counselling skillsand an in-depth understanding of gambling. You may not be able tohelp clients with their gambling problems, legal issues, family conflicts,emotional and physical health problems, but you can play an importantrole by referring them to people who can.45

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsNormally, clients are encouraged to contact the problem gamblingcounselling agency themselves. Their motivation to seek help willwaver, however, so take any opportunity to link clients to services. Youmay want to help clients make appointments from your office or providethem with print materials they can take home.Where to Find HelpThere are specialized problem gambling services available in mostcommunities across Ontario. Every effort is made to respond to callswithin 24 hours and most people can be seen within days. Findingout about available specialized and community resources is easy bycontacting the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline, a free, confidentialand anonymous service open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.This service provides information about and referrals to problem gamblingcounselling services, telephone-counselling services and mutualaid organizations such as Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon.Help for a problem with gambling is available:• free of charge and close to home• to anyone affected by problem gambling—not just the person whogambles• confidentially• individually, in groups and through couple and family counselling• by telephone in some areas• in residential treatment programs.Clients who are actively involved in counselling report that it hashelped them identify their gambling triggers, restore balance andmade them feel better equipped to deal with life.46

Problem Gambling Treatment ServicesProblem Gambling Counselling ApproachesProblem gambling counsellors will not make the client stop gambling.Only the client can make that choice. Instead, counsellors supportclients as they explore issues they see as priorities. The client may beready to focus on gambling or may be more motivated to address concernsrelated to finances, work and family relationships first. Counsellorsmay also help clients identify new options and provide feedback as towhether goals are reasonable and achievable.By focussing on clients’ identified concerns, strengths and solutions—and by helping them set short-term, achievable goals—counsellorsinspire hope and a sense that change is possible. When ambivalenceis high, a brief solution-focussed approach may be most effective inincreasing awareness, building trust and engaging the client in atherapeutic relationship.Harm reduction is a common counselling approach. Counsellorshelp clients assess their gambling and reduce the negative impact itis having on their lives. This is a method of reaching clients who areat all stages of change, and it respects clients’ right to choose theirown goals. Some people who gamble choose to set time and moneylimits, or to stay away from gambling activities that cause them themost harm. Others decide that the only solution to their problem isabstinence and stop gambling completely.Using motivational interviewing, problem gambling counsellors provideaccurate information, advice and support that helps clients assess theharm gambling is causing and decide what is right for them. Problemgambling counsellors will often encourage clients to take a break fromgambling in order to assess its impact and gain control.Problem gambling counsellors can help clients:Gain Control over GamblingUsing cognitive and behavioural techniques, clients learn to controlgambling triggers, patterns and urges and to plan ways to stay in control47

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial Counsellorsof their gambling. Counsellors may help clients identify faulty beliefsabout gambling, such as the role of skill, the odds of winning, randomnessand their ability to influence outcomes. Counselling helps clientsuncover and explain those faulty beliefs in a way that helps them understandtheir urge to gamble and gain life-long control.Deal with FeelingsSome people use gambling to cope with abuse, sickness, loss or caregiverburden, or to avoid difficult feelings such as depression, angeror anxiety. Counselling helps clients understand and cope with thosechallenges in other ways. Learning to identify feelings and acceptthem as normal and healthy can help to reduce the urge to gamble,restore intimacy, health and a sense of well-being.Address Health ProblemsClients may also be struggling with other serious health problemsincluding problems with alcohol or other drugs, physical illness andemotional or mental health concerns. Problem gambling counsellorscan help link clients and families to the services they need.Heal Family RelationshipsThrough individual, couple or family counselling, counsellors helpthe family understand what has happened and explore ways to restoretrust within the family or to deal with the impact of separation.Find BalanceGambling problems often result in the loss of overall balance in life.Counselling can help the person who gambles and his or her familyreturn to normal routines and replace gambling with healthier andmore rewarding lifestyle choices.Prevent RelapseRelapse is often part of the recovery process and can help reinforcethe client’s need to manage his or her gambling. Counselling canhelp the client identify his or her unique patterns and triggers andplan ways to reduce risk and increase control.48

5ResourcesOntario’s Specialized Problem GamblingServices and ResourcesThe following list of resources and programs has been funded by thegovernment of Ontario as part of the province’s problem gamblingstrategy.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthProblem Gambling Project(416) 535-8501 x4253This program is dedicated to acting as an evidence-based resource to theOntario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the designated problemgambling treatment system, allied professionals and the generalpublic to prevent and reduce harm associated with problem gambling.The Problem Gambling Project (PGP) develops and delivers corecompetency and specialized training on a wide range of issues relatedto gambling and problem gambling. Working with the OntarioAssociation of Credit Counselling Services, the PGP has presented atseveral of their conferences. They have also partnered in the developmentand delivery of joint training events with credit counsellors andproblem gambling counsellors in the province.49

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsThe Project has produced a number of comprehensive resources forpeople affected by problem gambling and for professionals, includingthis Guide for Financial Counsellors. The following resources are availablefree of charge:• Problem Gambling: The Issues the Options—for people experiencingproblems with gambling.• Problem Gambling: A Guide for Families—for family members ofpeople experiencing problems with gambling.Both of these handbooks are intended to encourage self-reflection andto provide information about options. They can be used in preparationfor, or as an adjunct to, specialized counselling.• Problem Gambling: A Guide for Helping Professionals—for peoplewho work in the “helping professions,” including addiction specialists,social and health care providers, workers in the criminal justicesystem, the clergy and employee assistance program counsellors. It isdesigned to increase knowledge of problem gambling by providinginformation and tools to identify and support people with gamblingproblems.For further information about our training and resources, please call(416) 535-8501 x4253 or e-mail Problem_GamblingProject@camh.net.Journal of Gambling Issueswww.camh.net/egambling/The Journal of Gambling Issues (jgi) offers an Internet-based forum forpeer-reviewed articles on research, treatment and policy. There arealso service profiles of innovative treatment centres, first-personaccounts of gambling experiences, reviews (books, videos, Web sites)and letters to the editor. The jgi publishes articles about gambling asa social phenomenon and about the prevention and treatment ofgambling problems; our aim is to help make sense of how gamblingaffects us all. Copies and subscriptions are free through the Web site.50

ResourcesNiagara Multilingual Prevention/Education Problem GamblingProgram, Addiction Services, Hotel Dieu Hospitalwww.gamb-ling.com(905) 682-6411 x3849This program is specifically designed to serve members of ethnoculturalcommunities and their families, as well as service providersand other professionals in the Niagara region.The Web site contains linguistically and culturally appropriate information,a confidential e-mail question and answer forum and links to otherrelated sites. Information is provided in the following 11 languages:Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Russian,Somali, Spanish and Urdu.1 866 gamb-sos (1 866 426-2767) is a 24-hour confidential informationline. It provides prevention and education assistance in alllanguages offered at the Web site, except English.The program provides gambling and problem gambling information/awarenesssessions for ethno-cultural communities, social serviceproviders, financial/legal sector and ESL classes, and also has an Info-Centre with multilingual problem gambling educational resources andmaterials.All services are culturally and linguistically appropriate, freeand confidential.51

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsOntario Problem Gambling Helpline1 888 230-3505www.opgh.on.caThe Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline (OPGH) is an information andreferral service available to members of the public, including problemgamblers, family and friends of problem gamblers, and service providersworking with clients experiencing problems related to gambling. TheOPGH is designed to link callers with problem gambling services inthe province of Ontario. It is a free, confidential and anonymous service.You can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. OPGH provides informationin over 140 languages. It also gives referrals to:• treatment and counselling services for problem gambling• credit and debt counselling services• telephone-counselling services if they are available in your community• self-help organizations such as Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon.Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centrewww.gamblingresearch.org1 877 882-2204An arms-length agency that provides funding for research on problemgambling, increases the capacity in Ontario to conduct research ongambling problems and disseminates research findings. Funds arealso available to assist end-users with the incorporation of researchresults into practice.The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC)www.responsiblegambling.org1 888 391-1111A non-profit organization that works with people and communities toaddress gambling in a healthy and responsible way. The Council undertakesresearch and public awareness programs designed to preventgambling-related problems. The Web site provides an e-library ofresource materials, information on awareness programs, DiscoveryConferences and Symposia, links to counselling and support servicesin Ontario, and other related sites. The Web site also provides access to52

ResourcesNewslink, a newsletter that provides an ongoing and convenient summaryof trends, issues and various views on problem and responsiblegambling, and Newscan, a weekly e-mail digest of gambling news.YMCA Youth Gambling Projectwww.ymcatoronto.org/gambling1 877 525-5515 x4039The Youth Gambling Program is a prevention and education programdesigned to reduce the harm associated with youth gambling. Its Website provides contact information for the 18 Ontario communities thatit serves.Other ServicesCommunity Information Centres (CICs)Dial 0 for the operator or try dialing 211www.informontario.on.caCICs are not-for-profit groups that gather information on local governmentservices, community services and social services. These includecrisis services, shelters and counselling. Call the operator to see if thereis a Community Information Centre in your area.Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)(416) 408-4420www.cleo.on.cacleo is a not-for-profit legal information service. It provides easy tounderstand printed information on legal issues such as creditorharassment, family law and landlord/tenant issues.Compulsive Gamblers Hubwww.cghub.homestead.comAn Internet self-help group, based on Gamblers Anonymous.53

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsGam-Anon and Gam-Ateen(416) 366-7613www.gam-anon.orgGam-Anon offers peer support to family members and friends ofpeople with gambling problems. It helps them cope, stop blamingthemselves for the person’s gambling problems, and focus on theirown health and well-being.Gamblers Anonymous (GA)(416) 366-7613www.gamblersanonymous.orgga is available in many communities. Based on Alcoholics Anonymous,ga uses a 12-step self-help approach to recovery.Gambling Watch Network—Ontariowww.gamblingwatch.ca.Gambling Watch Network is a grassroots advocacy group of citizensfrom across Ontario who are concerned about the expansion ofgambling. For more information about the work they do see theirWeb site.GamBlockwww.gamblock.comGamBlock blocks access to Internet gambling sites. It helps peoplewith gambling problems avoid the dangers of online gambling.Help Lines and Distress CentresCall the operator or check the list of emergency numbers in the front ofyour telephone book for the distress centre or help line in your area.Kids Help Phone1 800 668-6868www.kidshelp.sympatico.caA free, 24-hour telephone support and information line for childrenand youth. Available in French and English.54

ResourcesLawyer Referral Services (LRS)General Referral: 1 800 268-8326www.lsuc.on.ca/public/referral_en.jsplrs will give you the names of lawyers (including those who acceptlegal aid) in your area who will provide a free half-hour consultation.A fee is billed to your telephone number. You can use the crisis linefree of charge if you are calling from hospital or jail, if you are under18, or if you are homeless or in crisis.Legal Aid Ontario1 800 668-8258www.legalaid.on.caLegal Aid may be able to help you pay for legal help if you have a lowincome. If you qualify, you can get financial help for a variety of legalproblems, including criminal matters, family law, and immigrationand refugee law. You may also be able to get help with some civil casesand final appeals.Parent Help Line1 888 603-9100www.parentsinfo.sympatico.caA free, 24-hour telephone support and information line for parents.Available in French and English.55

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial CounsellorsSuggested ReadingBerman, L. & Siegel, M. (1999). Behind the 8 Ball: A Guide for Familiesof Gamblers. New York: Simon & Schuster.Blaszczynski, A. (1998). Overcoming Compulsive Gambling: A Self-helpGuide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques. London, England:Constable & Robinson.Blaszczynski, A. (2000). Pathways to Pathological Gambling: IdentifyingTypologies. eGambling: The electronic journal of gambling issues.Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Problem Gambling Project,(2003). Problem Gambling: A Guide for Families. Call 1 888 647-4414.Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Problem Gambling Project,(2003). Problem Gambling: The Issues, The Options. Call 1 888 647-4414.Ladouceur, R., Silvain, C., Boutin, C. & Doucet, C. (2002). Understandingand Treating the Pathological Gambler. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.Little, D. (2002). Losing Mariposa: The Memoir of a Compulsive Gambler.Toronto: ecw Press.National Council on Problem Gambling (2000). Personal FinancialStrategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers.Prochaska, J., Norcross, J. & Diclemente C. (1995). Changing for Good.Morrow, William & Company.56

6Client Handouts1 Canadian Problem Gambling Index—Self Assessment ScreenThis questionnaire is based on the Canadian Problem GamblingIndex. Clients can use it as a self-assessment tool. It can also beincluded as part of your screening process and discussed in theclient interview.2 What Factors Can Put You at Greater Risk for Problems?This handout ties in well with the Canadian Problem GamblingIndex. The more risk factors that are identified by a client, thegreater the chance that the client may develop problems. The riskfactors in combination with the cpgi score can provide a good indicationof a client’s likelihood of developing problems. It can also providean opportunity to explore gambling further with a client.3 Winning Ways to Keep Gambling SafeThis handout provides tips for safe gambling for those clients whochoose to continue gambling. If they would like to understandtheir gambling behaviour better you can also give them the booklet,Problem Gambling: The Issues, the Options.57

Problem Gambling: A Guide for Financial Counsellors4 Is There a Gambling Problem in Your Family?This handout can be given to family members who indicate to youthat they are concerned about someone’s gambling or that someonethey care about appears to be gambling a lot. You could also givethem the booklet, Problem Gambling: A Guide for Families.5 Finding HelpThis handout can be given to clients who may be interested inlearning more about problem gambling counselling. It provides abrief description of problem gambling counselling, along withthe 1-800 number. You can also give clients the booklet, ProblemGambling: The Issues, the Options.6 Self-Monitoring Gambling or Urges to GambleThis tool can be given to clients who would like to gain a betterunderstanding of their gambling. They can review it with you andyou can help them identify their gambling patterns triggers andcoping strategies.7 Credit Counselling Services—Financial OptionsThis handout provides a summary of the financial options availableto clients.58

Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline1 888 230-3505

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