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Sporting gambling takes its toll – and these are usually highly educated young men

CBC Saskatchewan is studying sports betting on a single event in the province. This story is part of a series examining its impact.

Read Part 1 here, which focuses on a Tory MP who says the Saskatchewan government has “let down” sports betting on a single event. His private member’s bill paved the way for its legalization in Canada.

Read Part 2 here about how responsible gambling advocates are monitoring the growing ‘normalization’ of sports betting – and worried about the impact of TV ads and recommendations on young viewers.

Single-event sports betting has been legal for less than a year in Canada, so there’s no data yet on what its explosion in popularity has meant for problem gambling, but experts in the field say well-educated young men are the demographic group most at risk.

According to research, being male, young, single, tech-savvy and having a higher level of education are “pretty robust risk factors” when it comes to sports betting, said Shauna Altrogge, director of the Gambling Awareness Program of the Canadian Mental Health Association Saskatchewan Division.

“I think anyone who feels they have a really strong knowledge base and skill set in sports in general, might have a kind of feeling that ‘I know more than the average person, so I’m going to place that bet because my chances are pretty solid,” she said.

“So that’s a bit of a concern.”

Shelley White, CEO of the Responsible Gaming Council, said sports betting presents a unique risk.

“Because of that illusion of control, because of the social aspect of it, because people tend to drink or use substances while watching sports,” she said.

“Plus, it’s appealing to a younger demographic who also take more risks.”

White said the use of alcohol or substances during sports betting, which she does not recommend, can “significantly increase risk” because it impairs a bettor’s judgment when they are already in an emotional state. raised.

‘I spiraled for sure’

Dom Luszczyszyn, an NHL writer for The Athletic, provides daily picks, odds, odds of winning and betting advice, including telling people not to bet on sports.

Luszczyszyn has designed a statistical model which informs his betting tips and says he has made a profit in every season he has used the model.

In an interview with CBC Sports Senior Contributor Morgan Campbell on a recent episode of Bring it insideLuszczyszyn was asked if he had ever reached the point where he didn’t want to do this anymore.

Luszczyszyn said he had a lot of moments last year when he was on a “terrible streak”.

“I didn’t know when to stop betting. I kept thinking, ‘It’ll get better. It will get better. It will turn. It always spins. And sometimes it doesn’t work,” he said.

“When it kept spinning, I spiraled for sure.”

WATCH | NHL writer on sports betting pitfalls:

Sports betting pitfalls with expert Dom Luszczyszyn

Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic joins host Morgan Campbell to discuss sports betting pitfalls from his perspective as a hockey betting analyst.

He said he felt he couldn’t miss a day because he felt that if he missed a day, it would be the day that everything turned around or went right.

“And that’s definitely the dark place where your mind can go and where you start to wonder if this is an addiction that you have,” he said.

“Every morning I woke up, I knew things might not be okay, and I did it anyway. And then at night I was feeling, I guess, depressed again, and then I woke up and I started again.”

In an April Twitter thread that detailed his experiences over the past year, Luszczyszyn also took aim at “experts” who give betting advice to the public without showing their background, saying the practice should be illegal.

No Hells Angels Problem Gambling Program

During the readings of his private member’s bill that ultimately led to the legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada, Saskatoon-Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh said mental health and addictions are major concerns about gambling in all its forms.

Waugh called problem gambling and addiction “the elephant in the room,” but argued that since betting happens anyway, it’s best to make it legal and channel some of the profits to programs that support gamblers. who need help.

“The Hells Angels don’t have a problem gambling program,” Waugh said.

Before single-event sports betting became legal in 2021, Canadians spent an estimated $14 billion a year on single-event sports betting organized by black market gambling networks and overseas markets.

“None of that money, absolutely none, goes back into public coffers and nothing goes to addressing issues like problem gambling or mental health support,” Waugh said.

Now that provinces can regulate single-event betting, Waugh said it’s up to the provincial governments that collect some of that money to realize that some of it has to be spent on problem gambling.

Asked by CBC News what he says to people who wonder if it’s all worth the risk, Waugh acknowledged, “There’s a dark side to it.”

“But there was probably a dark side before when somebody was in his basement betting illegally in this country [on sites] offshore,” he said. “And they didn’t care if the person was going to go bankrupt.”

WATCH | Experts concerned about the influence of advertising on sports betting in Ontario:

Sporting gambling takes its toll – and these are usually highly educated young men

Experts concerned about influence of sports betting ads in Ontario

Sports betting ads are popping up all over Ontario, leaving some experts worried they might reach audiences outside the province and trick them into gambling on unregulated gambling sites.

Jasmin Brown, a Saskatoon-based partner and licensed insolvency trustee at BDO Debt Solutions, said her office is definitely seeing gambling-related bankruptcy filings, but they’re still fairly rare.

“I’ve noticed watching sports now that there’s a lot of publicity for [gambling]”, she said. “And it made me wonder, as I watched, if this could become a bigger issue.

Brown noted that the Federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act specifically deals with cases where the cause of bankruptcy was brought on by gambling or extravagance in life.

She said that in these cases, a bankruptcy discharge can be denied, suspended or conditionally granted.

“We are seeing stays and potentially a nisi where the debtor has to meet certain conditions before they can be discharged from bankruptcy,” she said. “They don’t get the automatic path [that other debtors do].”

Most Canadians Gamble Safely: Responsible Gambling Council

During committee stage of Waugh’s bill last year, the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) told the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that it believes gambling is entertainment. and, when balanced with other activities, offers minimal risk.

Most Canadians who gamble do so within their means and without prejudice, he said.

White, CEO of the group, said it was absolutely essential that all stakeholders – including government, operators, regulators and organizations like his – commit to working together to strengthen existing safeguards and mitigate risks.

This includes “making sure that we are not seduced by the revenue generated by the game,” she said.

“I mean, this is a very new area, and we need to understand what impact these policy changes have on public behavior.”

White said it’s possible to have strong safeguards that put people’s health and well-being first while generating revenue that will benefit society.

“Right now we’re seeing way too much advertising and marketing as new operators come into the market,” she said.

“How do we make sure we achieve a better balance?”

CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear personal stories from people across the province about their experiences with single-event sports betting. If you would like to share your views in a story, please email