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Know the Facts

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Thanks to Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia for funding to support the Know the Facts campaign.

Did you know:

  • Gambling addiction affects the brain the same way that substance addiction does1. There is a myth that you can only become dependent on substances, not behaviours. Learn how some forms of gambling are specifically designed to create addiction. Read a list of 10 Electronic Gambling Myths.
  • There is no such thing as an “addictive personality”. Electronic gambling devices are designed based on a deep understanding of human psychology and how to manipulate human behaviour. The psychological principles (such as a variable-ratio reward system) work on everybody, since the designers of the machines capitalize on understanding how the brain functions and how motivation and behaviour can be guided. This is done with no disclosure to the public as to the techniques used so that citizens are unable to make an informed choice about their involvement with these devices.
  • Different types of gambling have different levels and types of risk of harm. For instance, a 50/50 draw at the rink has a very low level of  risk, but Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) harm about 1 in 4 of regular users and 1 in 21 of all users. Learn about the different risks of the gambling options in Kings County, and how to make informed decisions when engaging in this as a recreational activity.
  • Gambling affects all of us – whether we gamble or not! Most people seem to think that gambling harms are all about “problem gamblers” rather than about “the gambling problem”.  See the Impacts of Gambling infographic. 
  • Gambling impacts Kings County on multiple levels – individuals, relationships, organizations, community and society. See the Gambling Harm Impacts Us All page that shows how gambling can harmfully impact families, youth, seniors, local business, and more – not just individual gamblers. Use the drop-down menu from the “Know the Facts” button to browse more information.
  • The stats indicate that about 50,000 people are likely to be affected by gambling in the Annapolis Valley. 5,o00 directly, and ten times that many indirectly. Click here for details.
  • The problem cannot be solved just by treating those harmed by gambling. We need a comprehensive approach to creating a safer gambling experience for all. This will include friends, family, local organizations, local business, local government, and provincial policy. See the Gambling Harm Prevention page for how to start! See how Norway made VLTs safer.
  • Gambling is the Invisible Addiction. Let’s start talking about it!

Click on the images below to see detailed infographics and references.
Infographics developed by Injury Free Nova Scotia, 2015. Used by permission.

Psychology of Gambling

The Psychology of Gambling

The Addictive Design

Addictive Design

Impacts of Gambling

The Impacts of Gambling

Youth Gambling

Youth Gambling

Nova Scotia Gambling Regulation

Nova Scotia Gambling Regulation

Gambling Milestone Dates in Nova Scotia

Gambling Milestone Dates in N.S.


1pixelInvisible Addiction

Gambling is the invisible addiction. It is much easier to understand how anyone could be addicted to tobacco or to alcohol than to a Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) machine or to a scratch-and-win ticket. Gambling addiction is real and so are its consequences1.

David Fairfax, a Safety Officer with the RCMP interviewed in 2012 said that the RCMP don’t see a lot of harms in this community. People who have gambled away their paycheques don’t come to the police. And the RCMP doesn’t get called for drinking and gambling like they would for drinking and driving, so they are missing the bulk of what’s happening. He added, “The problem is silent.”

Even some public figures in Nova Scotia have been so addicted to gambling, they have taken public funding to support their addiction. The gambling connection is rarely mentioned in the press reports.

The problem is silent but the harms are not. The victims are the most vulnerable of our society: the poor, the mentally ill, people dealing with other addictions, seniors and youth. They and their families feel the effects of their addictions.

adapted from the Report on The Community Dialogues on Gambling October, 2012 by Audrey Shields and Heather Frenette


  •  About 1,872 people in Kings County are experiencing significant harm because of their gambling.
  • According to a 2007 Prevalence Study2, more than 4, 967 residents in the Annapolis Valley are gambling at some level of risk.
  • Gambling harm is most damaging to the disadvantaged people in our county: the poor, senior citizens, youth, people dealing with other addictions and people with mental health problems5.
  • But like the ripple effect of a pebble thrown into a pond, gambling harm affects everyone in our community. It is estimated that for every gambler, ten others in his or her life are affected.
  • And every citizen in the county pays more taxes to cover the costs to social services, justice, health, mental health and addictions services – way more costs than the government receives in gambling revenues3.
  • About $4 million leaves Kings County every year from VLT revenues going to the province4. Imagine the economic impact for local business if there was that much extra money spent in the county each year!


1. Research shows that the neurochemical changes that occur in the brains of gambling addicts are the same as in people who are addicted to substances (see Sunderworth & Milkman [1991], “Behavioral and neurochemical commonalities in addiction” in Contemporary Family Therapy, Vol. 13, #5).

2. 2007 Nova Scotia Adult Gambling Prevalence Study (PDF)

3. Costs and Benefits of Gaming: A Literature Review with Emphasis on NS (GPI Atlantic, 2004) (PDF)

4. Information received by email on request from the Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation (NSPLCC) for 2012.
[Note: their name was “Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation (NSGC)” at that time.]

5. Annapolis Valley Health Gambling and Healthy Communities: Position Statement 2014. (PDF)

See also our Resources and Research sections.