Gambling addiction an increasing problem for university students: group

Know the Score 2

Know the Score 2, an awareness group, was at Ryerson Monday to promote safe and healthy gambling practices (Greg DeClara/Ryersonian Staff)

Toronto may not be getting a casino, but Ryerson students are still at risk of developing a gambling addiction, according to one group.

Know the Score 2, an interactive gambling awareness program, was on campus Monday sharing information about the potential problems students can encounter. It says young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are two to three times more likely to develop a gambling problem – the highest risk of any age group. Almost seven per cent of young adults have a mild to severe gambling addiction, the group said.

“At this age, they’re greater risk-takers and experiment with new things like sex and drugs. We found gambling is also one of those things,” said Danielle Ayee, a Know the Score 2 campus representative. “We’re here to help people make informed decisions.”

Know the Score was first created in 2001 by the Responsible Gaming Council, but was redeveloped to reflect today’s technological world. The program attracts students using social media and with staff-interactive displays on campus. Students answer questions and have a chance to win an iPad and a $1,500 scholarship. The questions look at the chances of winning and losing, highlight signs of problem gambling, shares local problem gambling services and suggests ways to gamble safely.

“With online gambling, you have 24-7 access, isolation from others and fasted-pace games,” said Ayee. “It’s legal in Ontario to gamble online so it’s becoming way easier for young people to be a part of it.”

In 2010, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) announced it would extend its services to online. In April of this year, it announced SPIELO G2 as its primary service provider for online slots, poker and table games. The program will launch in phases towards to the end of this year.

The OLG does not have a mobile app, but people can sign up for mobile messaging that sends lottery results straight to cellphones.

Jasmine Nadarajah, a first-year social work student, took time to learn about Know the Score 2 Monday at their booth in the Credit Union Lounge. She said she wasn’t surprised about the problems affecting students.

“A lot of my family and friends do it,” she said. “They buy lottery tickets thinking they’ll win, but it’s so unlikely that they will. They say ‘one person in this town won, why can’t I be a winner?’”

While risk is high for students, the Ryerson Centre for Student Development and Counselling does not provide services for those with a gambling addiction. If someone does come forward, Ryerson refers them to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The school says CAMH has short wait times and can provide better services.

Know the Score 2 will be back on campus Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Credit Union Lounge.

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