Runia Hilo, 23, a York University student and part-time employee at a Greek restaurant deals with problem gambling. “All my tips go to the slot machines,” said Hilo; “my uncle took me to the casino a few times and it went downhill after that.”

“Students and young adults with gambling addictions are more popular than usual in recent years,” said Heather Ly, program coordinator of The Responsible Gambling Council of Ontario.

The Responsible Gambling Council is an awareness program urging people to know the warning signs of problem gambling and ways to prevent the addiction from occurring. The organization has a program geared towards college and university students called KTS. They interact with students, online and on campus, engaging them in a quiz designed to provide information so they can make informed decisions.

“Compared to adults, young people are two to three times more likely to develop a gambling problem.” said Ly. Recent research from this program show that if you are between 18 and 24 years old, you are in the age group that’s at the highest risk of developing a gambling problem. “You are exposed to gambling images every day, from lottery tickets at the store to poker tournaments on TV and online,” said Ly. While gambling is illegal for teens, research shows many do bet on sports and purchase lottery tickets.

Hilo said it’s hard to save any money being a student and on top of that she’s been going to the casino every weekend to spend her tips. “I tried getting help, but I just went back to my regular habits. It’s hard, frustrating and stress on myself and my family.” said Hilo.

Many adults across Ontario are affected by gambling and numbers have spiked in recent years. “Our research shows that 3.4 per cent of Ontarians have a moderate to severe gambling problem,” said Ly, “in the Toronto area that would equate to 65,000 adults.”

The organization visits different gaming venues and schools all across Ontario, all the way from Thunder Bay to the Niagara west areas, giving out information to those who do gamble and to the general public. Ly hopes that the organization will continue to create positive outcomes encouraging those who do gamble, to gamble safely.

Some gambling warning signs include constant thinking and talking about gambling, spending more time and money than you can afford, borrowing money and guilty feelings. The Responsible Gambling Council of Ontario has been around for 12 years building knowledge and creating solutions on gambling.

For more information about the signs and the organization visit, KnowTheSigns.ca or contact Responsible Gambling Council at 1 (888) 230-3505.