Responsible Gaming Tools in BC 2024: Tools and Strategies for Safe Betting

Being one of the largest and most populated Canadian provinces, British Columbia is the home to dozens of casinos and thousands of video lottery outlets. Since online gambling is also fully legal in all forms in BC, residents have many gaming opportunities, from buying lottery tickets and betting on horse races to playing casino games and placing sports bets online. Most importantly, all of the top-ranked British Columbia sites have advanced Responsible Gaming policies.

The rise of the iGaming market has brought many international casino brands to the province, operating besides government-owned casinos and VLT terminals. Even though many see these popular forms of gambling as harmless activities, gambling can easily lead to problems and even addiction if not played with caution.

That's why many reputable responsible gaming organizations offer help to British Columbia gamers and try their best to prevent problem and addictive gambling. In this guide, we'll discuss all the available tools and organizations promoting responsible gaming in BC, as well as the signs and symptoms that may indicate gambling addiction and the measures you can take if you or someone you know is struggling.

What is Responsible Gaming in British Columbia?

The majority of Canadian players who engage in gambling manage to do so in a healthy manner and will never suffer any addiction issues. However, it is impossible to foresee if this will be you. Therefore, taking precautions is a good thing to do - this is one thing you do not want to gamble on!

Ideally, every patron would stay informed on how to practice responsible and safe gambling and how to make sure they are taking part in activities in an appropriate manner - and that’s where tools that help players gamble responsibly come in handy.

There are multiple sets of tools and measures that both legal authorities and non-profit organizations have taken to inform players of the dangers that come with problem gaming and gambling addiction, as well as tools that can help people that are already struggling with these issues.

In a nutshell, responsible gaming is a set of behaviours and rules that patrons and service providers are to go by in order to prevent adverse effects associated with gambling. All forms of gambling are only intended to be fun time activities, and to gamble responsibly means to do so for one’s enjoyment and nothing else.

A padlock, 18+ sign with a danger button for responsible and safer gaming in British Columbia

Responsible And Safer Gaming in British Columbia

The government takes responsible gaming in BC very seriously and offers numerous tools and practices for British Columbia casino players and sports bettors. The program offers a long list of products in a well-rounded service and we’ll list the major ones below.

What is the Main Goal of Responsible Gambling Organizations in BC?

As we mentioned previously, gambling is all about fun - regardless of its form. So, the main goal of BC responsible gambling organizations is to keep gaming as an entertainment-only activity and make sure that all players gamble solely for their enjoyment.

Besides prevention, these organizations offer help to players struggling with BC problem gambling as well as prevent underage gambling, combat criminal activities, provide payment protection, and ensure a safe and secure online gaming environment for everyone. We discuss some of the main goals in more detail below.

BC Responsible Gaming Agency in Charge

All forms of gambling in British Columbia are regulated, audited, and overseen by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB). The branch ensures the integrity of gaming industry companies, the people involved, and the equipment used. It is also responsible for investigating all allegations of wrongdoing regarding gambling in British Columbia.

Moreover, the GPEB is responsible for overseeing the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and all of casinos, lotteries, and commercial bingo halls, as well as all gambling service providers and gambling workers in the province, including the horse racing industry in BC. All the activities carried out by the GPEB are following Canada’s Criminal Code and the provincial Gaming Control Act and Gaming Control Regulations.

More About The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB)

The authoritative regulatory body for gambling in British Columbia is the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB). It was formed in 2002 to replace the BC Gaming Commission and was named the authority to issue licenses and to prescribe terms and conditions.

The GPEB covers four primary areas of responsibility: registering companies and people as well as licensing operators in the province, certifying lottery schemes and gaming supplies, auditing them for compliance with provincial requirements, and investigating allegations of wrongdoing regarding gambling in British Columbia.

The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) Contact Information

The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch is the main regulatory body in the province. As such, it follows the Gaming Control Act and is responsible for the overall integrity of gaming and horse racing in BC.

Suppose you have any questions or inquiries regarding gambling in British Columbia, need to send documentation for gambling event licenses, gaming grants, or gaming registration. In that case, you can contact the GPEB via email, phone number, mail, or visit the GPEB offices in person.

Contact Options Email [email protected] Victoria Office Phone Number 250 387-5311 opt. 1 Victoria Office Address Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, 3rd Floor, 910 Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 1X3 Toll-Free within Canada/USA 1 800 663-7867 (ask to be transferred to the Victoria number above)

Toll-Free Gambling Support for British Columbia Players

British Columbia residents can access the toll-free service line 1-888-795-6111, where they’ll find a professional counsellor available 24/7. The helpline is accessible to everyone within or outside of BC, and the organization employs professional counsellors that offer free community-based counselling services through contracted agencies and qualified individuals.

Gambling Support BC

Gambling Support BC is a website administered by the Community Supports Division within the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General in BC. It’s supported by the government as it aims to develop and offer innovative health promotion and promotion strategies to assist BC residents in making the best decisions regarding all forms of gambling.

Additionally, GSBC offers support services to all BC gamblers and offers gambling support services centred on individuals, groups, day treatment, and community outreach support. The site also features a self-assessment test that players can take for free to identify and distinguish between recreational and problematic gambling.

If you believe that you or someone you love needs support or treatment regarding BC problem gambling, you can request help online at the GamblingSupportBC site or through the 1-888-795-6111 Gambling Support Line, that’s toll-free and is available around the clock.

Gambling Support BC Team

The devoted team working behind the scene at Gambling Support BC is composed of 41 certified counsellors working around the clock to offer help to anyone in need. The team includes registered clinical counsellors, prevention and community engagement providers, and social workers that have worked for 20+ years helping people in the areas of problem and addictive gambling as well as mental health.

A person is thinking about the importance of responsible gaming policies and tools

Why Are Responsible Gaming Policies and Tools Important?

Despite the numerous benefits of responsible gaming policies and tools, the most important is letting players know they’re not alone. To expect that all players will follow responsible gaming guidelines and practices is unrealistic, and it all comes down to the users themselves to follow their self-imposed sets of rules.

However, a robust support system goes a long way towards preventing and dealing with problem gambling - which is why all offshore operators available in BC and PlayNow - the only licensed site in the province - have to follow the policies and practices enforced by the GEPB.

The BC responsible gaming policies and tools are great for beginners with words of advice on how gambling works, why one should always play solely for fun, and highlight the warning signs and symptoms that one might be falling into the pit of gambling addiction. Other essential tools which allow users to control their gaming time and bankroll more efficiently include:

PlayNow - The BCLC-Licensed Gambling Site

Launched in 2004, is operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and is the only licensed gambling site in British Columbia. All the revenue generated by the site is invested back into the communities of BC through the support of the provincial government and charitable programs.

It’s a safe and secure online gaming site that offers a casino, poker, bingo, sports betting, live casino, and lottery sections where players can enjoy a wide variety of games. When it comes to responsible gaming in BC, PlayNow allows its users to manage their gameplay by:

Moreover, it’s a part of the GameSense program and offers help to anyone in need through Live Chat or the toll-free line 1-877-706-6789. BC players can talk to a trained GameSense Advisor specialist there. Also, the site offers access to numerous responsible and safer gaming organizations and services, including Gambling Support BC, GamTalk, Journal of Gambling Issues, Gamblers Anonymous, and Gam-Anon.

Report on Problem Gambling Prevalence in British Columbia

Multinational market research firms Ipsos and Strategic Science issued a study in 2020 regarding problem gambling prevalence in British Columbia. The study measures the prevalence of adult participation in online gaming and online problem gambling in the province and is among the first of its kind.

The study found that 22% of British Columbia residents spent money on at least one online gaming activity in the previous year, and online gamblers are primarily male and younger than the general players.

The study also found that online gamblers are more likely than gamblers, in general, to classify toward the higher risk end of the Problem Gambling Severity Index. 24% of online gamblers fell into this category while 40% of them classify as either high or moderate risk, which is again more than gamblers in general.

When it comes to tools and resources that help players gamble responsibly, only 22% of online gamblers responded that they use them, while 72% of them are aware of the provincial help resources. Unsurprisingly, the study found that online gamblers have a strong preference for using a BC-regulated website rather than an offshore site.

Responsible Gambling Standards in the British Columbia iGaming Industry

When it comes to safe gaming standards in the British Columbia online gambling industry, all BCLC gaming service providers must have policies, procedures, and regular training in place. These all have a couple of ultimate goals, including:

Operators must ensure that clocks display the time of the day and are readily accessible to customers as sort of a reality check too. Additionally, BCLC gaming services must provide voluntary self-exclusion programs and ensure that practices are in place so that all customers that have requested VSE are treated with respect and offered a referral to problem gambling treatment with support services.

Advertising and Marketing iGaming Services in British Columbia

All service providers that have been licensed to hold gaming events must comply with British Columbia’s Advertising and Marketing Standards. All advertising must be delivered in a responsible manner and take into consideration the potential impacts on individuals that may be adversely affected by gambling.

Additionally, service providers must ensure that all players can make informed decisions by prominently displaying information about the potential risks associated with gambling and where to get help.

What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction is diagnosed using criteria similar to alcohol and drug dependence. A pathological gambler will increase their tolerance by increasing the amount gambled and experience an inability to quit. However, some criteria, such as chasing losses, will be unique to gambling.

Those who suffer from gambling addiction are often found to have the same risk factors that predispose an individual to other addictive behaviours. These factors include previous psychiatric problems, a tumultuous and challenging home life, and a lack of community support.

Not only are those likely to fall into substance abuse but are similarly likely to fall into gambling addiction, where many times people also turn from these previous addictions to gambling as an alternative. Unfortunately, this alternative can be just as unhealthy and life-ruining.

Thankfully, addictions are treatable, and gambling addiction help is available, but one must seek out and accept that help willingly. A key factor to any recovery is identifying and admitting the problem.

Physical Signs of Gambling Addiction

When playing without the goal of enjoyment but rather chasing wins, a person will experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and frustration. Apart from affecting their mental state, the result of this is altered and ultimately harms their physical state.

Stress and anxiety may lead to cardiovascular issues, while the gastrointestinal issues they cause are sure to plague the life of an addict. Frequent headaches, nausea, lack of appetite, insomnia, and stomach issues are some physical signs of gambling addiction.

Psychological Signs of Gambling Addiction

Even though the physical symptoms might be easier to identify, addiction is a psychological issue in itself and it can also create new mental health issues, such as depression, increased anxiety and stress levels, or worsened previous conditions you may suffer from.

Problem gamblers will experience massive frustrations when losing and may even go into fits of rage, causing damage to themselves and their surroundings. It can also lead to poor judgment, concentration issues, frequent mood swings, and increased irritability. Suicide is also an issue hugely prevalent among gambling addicts, more so than with other addictive disorders.

Social and Behavioral Signs of Gambling Addiction

Besides the physical and psychological symptoms of gambling addiction, some social and behavioural signs are present with all forms of gambling. They often include gambling away inheritance or savings and borrowing money to gamble, being preoccupied with gambling, feeling an extreme urge to gamble, and social isolation.

Gambling Addiction vs Problem Gambling

While they’re closely related, gambling addiction and problem gambling differentiate in a few key areas. While problem gambling is a broad term that encompasses many different patterns of harmful gambling behaviour that have a negative effect on someone’s life, gambling addiction is a term that defines an impulse-control disorder in which the people suffering can’t control the urge to gamble.

Even though gamblers can have a problem without being totally out of control, problem gambling is a behaviour that severely disrupts your life, where you’re spending more time and money than you can afford, so it can easily lead to gambling addiction.

The term pathological gambling, on the other hand, is a mental health disorder of impulse control that the American Psychiatric Association defines by having some of these symptoms:

A customer support person representing responsible gambling organizations

Where to Get Help?

Responsible gambling in BC is taken very seriously, and numerous organizations offer tools, guidelines, and resources to BC players in need, including a 24/7 toll-free support line, the Responsible and Problem Gambling Program BC, Gambling Support BC, Here to Help BC, and more.

Problem Gambling Rehabilitation Centers in British Columbia

Besides the gambling help that people struggling with gambling addiction and problem gambling in BC can receive via phone, online, or through the above-mentioned services, there are numerous rehabilitation centres across BC that help individuals battling gambling addiction.

A lock with 18+ and a danger sign for different responsible gaming tools in BC

Tools Available To Help British Columbia iGaming Fans Gamble Responsibly

All licensed gambling sites in British Columbia must feature a set of responsible gambling tools and practices that are visible to players at all times. With PlayNow as an exemplary site, options include the ability to set deposit limits, betting limits, self-exclusion, cool-off, and session limits.

Deposit Limits

Players can be in full control of their bankroll by setting monthly and weekly deposit limits. When a deposit limit is in place, the player can choose how much they’ll be able to deposit at the gambling site in a certain amount of time, and when that limit is reached, they can’t deposit more money into their betting account. Imposing deposit limits is helpful for players that might get pulled into depositing more than they can afford. When there's a limit, the player can't deposit anymore - thus lowering the risks of gambling.

Betting Limits

Similarly to deposit limits, betting limits indicate how much a person can wager from their betting account. BC players can set daily, weekly, and monthly betting limits, and when that limit is reached, they can’t wager any more real money from their betting account.Just like deposit limits, betting limits are there to protect the player's bankroll. By imposing a betting limit, the player won't be able to spend all their bankroll quickly and be forced to deposit again.


Self-exclusion is a responsible gaming tool in which a patron can exclude themselves from participating in online gaming for a certain period. BC players can self-exclude themselves from gambling for a month, 3 months, 6 months, a year, or two years. The self-exclusion can be requested on the casino site itself or through a program or service, where the player’s request will be sent out to all legally operating gambling sites in British Columbia. Self-exclusion is one of the strongest measures a player can take, and it means that they won't be able to log in at any casino site in an attempt to get out of the pitfall called gambling addiction.


A popular tool for problem gamblers, requesting a cool-off period or a time-out session means excluding themselves from gambling for a certain period. This is usually between a few days and a month. As the name suggests, this measure is requested when a patron has to cool off from gaming and during this period, they won’t be able to log in to their betting accounts. This is beneficial for players that might be developing a gambling problem or gambling addiction, so they can use the cool-off period to reset their life and reconsider their choices.

Session Limits

With session limits, players can specify for how long they would like to be logged in to their betting accounts. When the session timer runs out, the player will be automatically logged out of their account and won’t be able to log in to their account that day. Session limits are partciuarly helpful for players that lose track of time when gambling, so when the time runs out, they'll be notified how many hours they've spent gambling.

How do British Columbia's Safe Gambling Organizations compare with International Organizations?

Multiple responsible gaming organizations in British Columbia work hard towards raising awareness, prevention, and dealing with problem and addictive gambling. Canada is among the worldwide leaders when it comes to responsible and safe gaming, and many Canadian organizations collaborate with some of the most successful organizations in the world, such as BeGambleAware, Gamblers Anonymous, Gambling Therapy, GamStop, and GamCare.

A deck of cards, a padlock with 18+ and a danger sign for the tips of Responsible Gaming

How to Gamble Responsibly?

Gambling responsibly means thinking of gambling only as entertainment and not as a way to make money. To gamble responsibly means to be in control of your bankroll at all times and have fun! When you set a budget for gambling, be prepared that you might lose it. Don’t chase losses, don’t try to beat the house, and do not engage in gambling to escape from your everyday problems.

Responsible Gaming at British Columbia Land-Based Gambling Venues

All British Columbia land-based gambling venues that operate under the British Columbia Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission are obliged to promote responsible and safe gaming. Some examples include Deerfoot Inn & Casino and Elbow River casino, which operate with licenses issued by the BCLC and are committed to providing the highest standard of integrity and ethics in all of their gaming practices.

Moreover, all land-based casinos that operate with the BCLC are obliged to have GameSense Info Centres on their casino floors where players can easily get in touch with a GameSense Advisor. Responsible gambling is a very serious matter and both land-based and online British Columbia casinos take great measures to prevent users from becoming problem gamblers. Gambling is all about fun - be it in person or online, and if you ever feel like it's slipping out of your hands, make sure to use any of the available responsible gambling tools and resources to get back on the right track.


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