For most people gambling is a leisure activity they enjoy doing once in a while. People play the lottery and bingo, go to a casino, or bet on horse races and sporting events. Proceeds or profits from gambling are often used to fund a charity, non-profit agency, or a community program.
Gambling is the act of risking money, property, or something of value on an activity that has an uncertain outcome. Gambling takes many forms:
Legalized gambling comes in many forms in Alberta. They include casinos, racetracks, video lottery terminals (VLTs), bingo, some online sport betting like Sport Select, and lotteries. These are legal because they're managed by the government or by regulations set by the government. The regulations include age limits as well. In Alberta, the legal age to gamble is 18. In other provinces or territories in Canada the legal age is 19.
Illegal gambling is gambling that happens outside of the government regulations. Placing a bet with a bookie on a professional sporting event is an example. A bookie is someone who accepts large bets from different people but isn't licensed or part of a regulated gambling business. Underage gambling is also illegal.
People gamble for many reasons:
About 2 out of 3 young people gamble or have gambled at least once. Young people usually gamble through bets with friends on card games, pool games, or professional sports. Once they are aged 18 and older, they're allowed to play VLTs, gamble in casinos, and buy lottery tickets.
All gambling or betting has some risk. Consider using these guidelines for gambling responsibly:
Most people gamble responsibly. But for some people, gambling can be a lot like an addictive drug—and it can become a problem. People with gambling problems often have trouble with money, stress, and family or relationships. They may often feel guilty and out of control because of their gambling losses.
People with gambling problems may also get into trouble like gambling until all their money is gone, owing money to family and friends, and going into debt to pay for their gambling. This kind of trouble can cause stress, fear, pain, and embarrassment for the people involved.
Many of the phrases we use in our everyday language have roots in gambling. Think of how many times you start a sentence with, “I bet…" Here are a few more examples:
It's a safe bet (another phrase that comes from gambling) that you've often used these phrases yourself. All these common sayings prove that gambling has been around a long time—long enough to have created some myths. Here are some popular myths and facts about gambling.
For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the Addiction Help Line. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Current as of: June 15, 2022
Author: Addiction & Mental Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.