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Gambling

Myths and Facts

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​​​​​​​​​​Many of the phrases we use have roots in gambling. Think of how many times a day you start a sentence with, “I bet…” Here are a few more examples:

  • “The odds are…”
  • “It’s a sure thing!”
  • “It’s a crapshoot.”
  • “I have an ace in the hole.”

It’s a safe bet (another phrase that comes from gambling) that you’ve often used these phrases! 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.

Myth: Gambling is a way to make money.
Fact: More often, gambling is a way to lose money. If you gamble, think of it as a kind of entertainment you have to pay for, just like a movie or dinner with friends. That can help you keep gambling in perspective—and if you end up winning some money now and then, it’ll be a nice treat instead of something you were depending on.

Myth: People can predict if a coin toss is going to come up heads or tails.
Fact: Each flip of the coin is an independent event. It doesn't matter what came up in the previous flips. The chance of heads or tails coming up in a single flip is 50%, no matter how many times you flip the coin.

Myth: There are systems that make it easier to predict winning lottery numbers.
Fact: It doesn't matter how you pick the numbers; your odds of winning are always the same. Take a lottery like Lotto 6/49 for example. All the numbers are put into a drum and mixed up. The selection is purely by chance. Each number has the same chance of being selected (a 1 in 49 chance to be exact). Your odds of winning the jackpot with one ticket are 1 in 13,983,816.

Myth: Most teens don’t gamble.
Fact: About 2 out of 3 teenagers gamble.

Myth: Teens don't develop gambling problems.
Fact: Teens tend to gamble with friends and not in casinos, but that doesn't mean they can’t develop gambling problems. In a 2008 survey of Alberta students in grades 7 to 12, just over 2%, so about 2 out of every 100 students surveyed showed signs of problem gambling. About 4% or 4 out of every 100 students showed signs of being at risk for developing problems with gambling.

Myth: People can usually win their money back if they have a losing streak.
Fact: Not true! Casinos stay in business because most people don't win their money back. Think about it: how long would a casino stay in business if it paid out more money than it took in? The fact is that most gamblers lose far more money than they win in these places.

Myth: Winning the lottery would put you on “easy street”.
Fact: Not if you are under 18 years old! In Alberta, it is against provincial lottery regulations for those under 18 to buy lottery tickets, collect lottery winnings, or play any other game sponsored by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. (That includes scratch-and-win tickets.)

For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the 24-hour Help Line.


Current as of: March 2, 2017

Author: Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services