A research plan to define Canada's first low-risk gambling guidelines

Health Promot Int. 2019 Dec 1;34(6):1207-1217. doi: 10.1093/heapro/day074.


From a public health perspective, gambling shares many of the same characteristics as alcohol. Notably, excessive gambling is associated with many physical and emotional health harms, including depression, suicidal ideation, substance use and addiction and greater utilization of health care resources. Gambling also demonstrates a similar 'dose-response' relationship as alcohol-the more one gambles, the greater the likelihood of harm. Using the same collaborative, evidence-informed approach that produced Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking and Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, a research team is leading the development of the first national Low-Risk Gambling Guidelines (LRGGs) that will include quantitative thresholds for safe gambling. This paper describes the research methodology and the decision-making process for the project. The guidelines will be derived through secondary analyses of several large population datasets from Canada and other countries, including both cross-sectional and longitudinal data on over 50 000 adults. A scientific committee will pool the results and put forward recommendations for LRGGs to a nationally representative, multi-agency advisory committee for endorsement. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic attempt to generate a workable set of LRGGs from population data. Once validated, the guidelines inform public health policy and prevention initiatives and will be disseminated to addiction professionals, policy makers, regulators, communication experts and the gambling industry. The availability of the LRGGs will help the general public make well-informed decisions about their gambling activities and reduce the harms associated with gambling.

Keywords: gambling-related harm; low-risk gambling limits; problem gambling; risk curves; total consumption theory.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Canada
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Gambling / epidemiology*
  • Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use / epidemiology*
  • Public Health
  • Research Design
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors