BCLC Aiming To Improve Responsible Gambling With Game Break

Written By Matthew Lomon on February 6, 2023 - Last Updated on March 10, 2023
Game Break is a rebrand of the BCLC's voluntary self-exclusion program offering a more thorough approach to responsible gambling.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation has made significant strides in its mission to destigmatize the dialogue around problem gambling. The BCLC is also elevating gambling in Canada by making resources more approachable for people struggling with addiction.

This past month, BCLC unveiled its formal rebrand of the long-standing voluntary self-exclusion program – an aid for self-aware problem gamblers seeking help – now called Game Break, reaffirming its desire to have the healthiest bettors in the global gambling game.

BCLC’s revamp of responsible gaming programming followed a two-pronged approach, pairing a less intimidating name with a more thorough reinstatement process to reduce barriers leading into the program, while also granting players dominion over the terms of their rehabilitation.

“We want players to gamble within their time and money limits, and we want them to feel empowered to take a break if it’s what they need,” said Ryan McCarthy, director of player health at BCLC. “Taking a break from something is often seen as a positive choice.”

A positive choice is a healthy choice

Centring GameBreak around positivity allows players to make informed decisions about the terms of their play. This comes without the assumed burden of defeat. Empowering players to not only act proactively, but to feel comfortable doing so is what drives the program.

The terms of enrollment remain the same under the direction of positive choice as they did under VSE. That means recovering bettors can enlist for a six-month, one-year, two-year or three-year term. The key difference is upon completion of their GameBreak term. Players who decide to return to play must complete the online course, GamePlan. It helps players gauge if a return to gambling is in their best interest by providing an opportunity to self-reflect and set goals before returning.

Program participants may also choose to extend their GameBreak term if returning to action feels premature.

“These changes to our self-exclusion program are another way that we’re working to help individuals make informed decisions about gambling and provide them with support and resources to help them practice positive play behaviours,” McCarthy said.

My PlayBreak is Ontario’s self-exclusion program

For those in Ontario struggling with problem gambling, the My PlayBreak tool offers support. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s version of a self-exclusion program closely resembles GameBreak’s flexible terms and commitment times. Except, the OLG’s tool has a different approach to reinstatement.

My PlayBreak does not include a GamePlan-like course for participants to complete as part of the conditions for a return to play. Although not as comprehensive as GameBreak, ongoing support is still available for players in Ontario. During the registration process, clients can opt-in to receive check-in calls from the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC). As well, customers can reach out to OLG player support in between check-ins.

Players can register for My PlayBreak online or by calling the following numbers as they pertain to personal area of need:

  • Casino: 1-800-387-0098 (Can also ask a staff member on-site or speak to a service coordinator at a PlaySmart Centre)
  • Charitable Gaming: 1-800-387-0098 (Can also ask a staff member on-site)
  • OLG.ca: 1-855-978-7529

The dialogue around problem gambling is changing for the better. Get involved with the resources available online, over the phone, and in-person to regain control over the problem.

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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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