Responsible gambling guidelines often dictate that gamblers set personal gambling limits to avoid gambling-related harm to themselves and others. While there are now more tools available to help gamblers to set limits, the limit-setting advice is typically general and non-quantitative, in contrast to other public health areas, such as drinking alcohol or food. A common responsible gambling slogan is: “set a limit and stick within it.”

To help provide gamblers and those who seek to establish responsible gambling programs, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction developed lower-risk gambling guidelines based on scientific evidence. The guidelines are appropriate for those who implement programs aimed at reducing gambling-related harms or promoting public health. They provide consistent, evidence-informed advice and messaging about how to gamble in a lower-risk manner.

The guidelines, detailed on gamblingguidelines.ca, specifically address three aspects of gambling: how much, how often and how many?

How much
The guidelines suggest that gamblers not bet more than 1% of their pre-tax household income.

How often
It’s recommended that gamblers not gamble more than four times per month, which is roughly once a week.

How many
Those who gamble on a regular basis should not play more than two types of games.

However, the guidelines caution that special risk populations and contextual factors play a role. The limits may not be appropriate for individuals experiencing problems from alcohol, cannabis or other drug use, those with anxiety or depression, and those with a personal family history of gambling problems or substance use disorders.

Other considerations

The type of gambling games one plays makes a difference. Fast-paced games that involve frequent betting can more quickly lead to problems. With slot machines, electronic gaming machines, poker and many online forms of gambling, people can spend a lot of money in a short time.

It’s also important to consider why someone gambles. Is it for fun? Those gambling to escape life problems are more likely to experience harm from gambling and might find it difficult to gamble within the suggested guidelines.

The source for information in this article was gamblingguidelines.ca.