Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines – The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction has developed Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines after conducting several research projects in support of their work.

Problem gambling has been recognized as a significant public health issue. Although legal, gambling presents potential risks to Canadians. Until now, there were no evidence-informed guidelines to help people who gamble do so in a way that lessens their risk of harms related to gambling.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) led the development of the world’s first Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines. These guidelines will help Canadians make informed decisions about their gambling.

The guidelines will also be an asset to those who implement programs aimed at reducing gambling-related harms or promoting public health. They provide consistent, evidence-informed advice and messaging about how to gamble in a lower-risk manner.

The Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines are intended to assist a wide variety of audiences, including:

  • Anyone who gambles or has friends or family who gamble;
  • Policy makers, regulators or others dedicated to reducing the harm associated with gambling;
  • Those developing training materials and capacity-building programs for healthcare providers and allied professionals on how to identify risky gambling behaviour; and
  • Those developing awareness campaigns to inform the public about lower-risk gambling.

The Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines

Gambling involves playing a game of chance for money.

If you gamble, the new Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines show you how to lower the risks and harms associated with gambling. There are only three guidelines, but you should follow all three.

The Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines Scientific Working Group used the most current scientific evidence available when developing the Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines. They are for people of legal gambling age who want to make more informed choices about their gambling.

Guideline 1: Gamble no more than 1% of household income

Don’t bet more than 1% of your household income before tax per month. For example, someone with a household income of $70,000 before tax should gamble no more than $58 per month.

Guideline 2: Gamble no more than 4 days per month

The guidelines suggest you don’t gamble more than 4 times a month. This works out to roughly once a week.

For the Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines to help individuals lower their risk of experiencing harms from gambling, they must follow all three guidelines at the same time and not be selective about which guidelines to follow when gambling.

Guideline 3: Avoid regularly gambling at more than 2 types of games

If you gamble on a regular basis, don’t play at more than 2 types of games.

Familiar types of gambling games include:


Sports betting

Table games (i.e. roulette, poker blackjack, craps)

Slot machines

Scratch tickets

Horse racing 


Video lottery terminals (VLTs)

Online forms of gambling like poker or slot machines

Special Risk Populations and Contextual Factors

If you have experienced any of the following risk factors, then these limits may not be suitable for you:

Problems from alcohol, cannabis or other drug use

Problems with anxiety or depression

Personal or family history of gambling problems or substance use disorders

In these instances, you should consider gambling less than these guidelines recommend or not at all.

Gambling Type

The type of gambling games you play makes a difference.

Fast-paced games that involve frequent betting can more quickly lead to problems. With slot machines, electronic gaming machines, poker and many online forms of gambling, people can spend a lot of money in a short time.

Reasons for Gambling

What are your reasons for gambling? Is it for fun? If you’re gambling to escape problems in your life, you’re more likely to experience harm from gambling and might find it difficult to gamble within the suggested guidelines.

Source: Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines – Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction