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Low Risk Gambling Limits Project

Problematic gambling seems to be more common in certain demographic groups than others. Notably, males, persons under 30 years of age, lower income individuals, and persons from ethnic minority groups show higher rates of problem gambling. The focus of our research has been on MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS, notably the level of gambling participation and intensity among individual gamblers.

As noted, the current responsible gambling guidelines are only descriptive, and do not suggest what amounts of money or time spent gambling pose as risk for negative consequences. For instance, "setting a limit and sticking with it" is not as helpful as suggesting a specific amount of money to be spent on gambling for a given time period. A useful analogy is found with alcohol consumption, where "drink no more than 2 units of alcohol per day" is explicit and ensures safe alcohol consumption in comparison to advice such as "set a drinking limit and stick with it." Qualitative drinking guidelines are widely accepted in Canada. These guidelines are endorsed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, CAMH, and AADAC. For more information about quantitative drinking guidelines see

The goal of current responsible gambling guidelines is to prevent recreational gamblers from experiencing serious harm and eventually developing a gambling disorder. Figure 1 illustrates the continuum of gambling, which ranges from recreational gambling to problem gambling. To prevent problem gambling it is necessary to identify modifiable factors that move individuals from recreation gambling to the intermediate steps of moderate and high risk gambling. The essence of our research includes projects in two areas.





*Please click on link for information about each project*

Empirical studies to determine which amounts of time and money invested in gambling differentiates recreational and 'at risk' gambling.

  1. Relationship between measures of gambling intensity and risk of harm

Empirical studies to identify other player factors related to at risk and problem gambling.

  1. How do erroneous thoughts about gambling relate to 'at risk' and problem gambling?
  2. What are the early warning signs of problem gambling?
  3. How do recreational gamblers control their gambling?


Literature Review- a comprehensive review of the research literature related to responsible gambling was undertaken. In addiction, research on risk curves for alcohol and harm, and the development of the low-risk drinking limits was also used to inform this project.

Analysis of Canadian Community Health Survey- Mental Health and Well-being Cycle (CCHS-1.2).- This was a cross-sectional, in-person survey of a nationally representative sample of over 36,000 Canadians aged 15 years and older. The survey included a module on gambling in addition to the broader mental health content.

Expert Survey- We polled over 170 gambling experts on their opinions on the low-risk limits

Analysis of Integrated CPGI Dataset - We replicated our analysis of the CCHS-1.2 on an integrated dataset (N=12,285) that combined gambling prevalence surveys conducted in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, and Newfoundland. The dataset was provided by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (OPGRC) to researchers for secondary analysis.

Prevention Forums Sponsored by OPGRC in May/August 2007- Researchers, clinicians, and policy makers met to review and discuss the research on prevention efforts related to responsible gambling.

Development of Reasons for Limiting Gambling Scale

Development of Web Pages

Dissemination of Major Findings through Conference Presentations and Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Social Media