12 December 2023
Alexandre Haslin, Maria Rigas
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5 misconceptions about gambling

There are many false beliefs regarding gambling, and they can encourage people to continue until perhaps developing a problem. Here are 5 common beliefs about gambling.


1 – If I do not have financial problems then I do not have a gambling problem

It is true that financial loss is one of the major consequences of a gambling problem. However, an addiction to gambling can have many other impacts even if the person is wealthy enough to recover from financial loss:

  • Isolation: time spent gambling can take up more space than other social activities.
  • Impacts on physical and mental health: a person gambling can develop anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, headaches, back and neck pain…
  • Conflicts with loved ones: the person gambling may start to neglect loved ones by isolating themselves and even lying about their gambling habits and financial loss.
  • Professional and academic problems: absenteeism, decrease in productivity…
  • Concurrent disorders, meaning that a person has at the same time an excessive gambling problem and one or more mental health disorders or substance abuse problems (alcohol, cigarettes, medication…).


2 – Some people are lucky and others unlucky

Chance can sometimes create the illusion that a person is particularly lucky and often wins while others are unlucky. Someone can multiply their wins during a period and give the impression of being lucky, but we do not know how much they lost beforehand, and we do not know how much they will lose afterwards!


3 – I have a better chance of winning if I play on the same VLT for a long time

Many people think that slot machines in the casinos are programmed to give out a series of losses or small gains before paying out big. They therefore believe that by playing for a long time on the same machine, they will and up winning a large sum of money. Whereas each spin is independent from the other.

Take for example a draw using a ball-drop machine. There are 20 balls, 19 black and 1 red. The goal is to get the red one for the win. The probability of winning therefore is 1/20. At each turn, the person draws a ball and puts it back. That means that at each turn, the probability of winning remains at 1/20 no matter how many times they play.


4 – With clever strategy, we can win more often

Even if certain games of money and chance contain a skill component such as poker or blackjack, chance remains an uncontrollable and unpredictable factor. As for other games of chance like VLT’s, scratchers and even Loto 6/49, no type of strategy will favor any gains, even the most imaginative (playing at the same time, using the same sequence of numbers, etc.)!

Many believe that a good strategy consists of gambling more or playing more games at the same time to increase their chances of winning. The probabilities of winning or losing remain the same. That means that statistically, playing longer or at multiple games increases the risk of losing more money and doing so quicker.


5 – I have always gambled once a week, I will never have a gambling problem

Most people that gamble do so occasionally or regularly without developing an excessive gambling problem. However, no one is safe from developing one, and many situations can lead to loss of control. For example, unexpected financial problems can push someone to gamble more to win. They then run the risk of losing even more, making the financial problems worse and wanting to gamble to chase their losses…thus setting up a cycle that can lead to addiction.

In addition, multiplying, unregulated, foreign platforms are constantly evolving in the online gambling world. Advertisements are more present and personalized and more elaborate strategies are developed to keep a gambler’s attention and push them to spend more. These are factors that can lead someone to losing control over their gambling.

We can help

Do you believe one or more of these misconceptions? Are you or a loved one losing control over gambling? We can help: call us at 1-800-461-0140 or chat with us, bottom right. We provide personalized support, information and referrals towards resources suited to your situation. Our services are available 24/7.

Ce contenu a été traduit grâce au soutien du Secrétariat aux relations avec les Québécois d’expression anglaise

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