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Irish Shamrock

Warning: If You Believe in “A Lucky Streak,” When It Comes to Gambling, You Might Want To Think Again

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day when our thoughts turn to the wearing of the green, Irish dancing, the Boston Celtics! Around the world, celebrations include wishing people good luck with an Irish toast, often coining the phrase “the luck of the Irish.” But many believe “the luck of the Irish” actually means bad luck as, historically, the Irish have experienced famine, war, prejudice and misfortune. Just like the interpretation of this phrase, when it comes to gambling, the most common luck that gamblers experience is “bad” luck.

Consider the odds when it comes to lottery tickets: the probability of winning the Lotto 6/49 is one in 14 million, and the probability of winning Lotto Max is 1 in 28 million. Fortunately, the investment in the purchase of lottery tickets is only a few dollars, but when does gambling become an issue?

Gambling is not just about the loss of money, but can have an overwhelming impact on a person’s daily life.

Gambling is an issue when it:

  • interferes with work, school or other activities
  • leads to emotional or physical health problems
  • causes financial problems
  • harms the family or other relationships.

Problem Gambling affects people in a variety of ways. Some people develop problems when they try to win back money they have lost, or because they like to be “in the action.” Others have many life stresses that make gambling a welcome distraction to their daily life.

People are more at risk if they:

  • have an early big win, which leads to false expectations of future wins
  • have easy access to their preferred form of gambling
  • hold mistaken beliefs about the odds of winning
  • have financial problems
  • have a history of mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety
  • has a parent who has or had problems with gambling
  • attach their self-worth to gambling wins or losses.

If you or a person you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, there are programs in the community that can help. For more information about problem gambling or financial management, contact Carizon at 519-743-6333.
**material referenced from “Problem Gambling: A guide for Financial Counsellors” Copyright 2005