COSTI & the Community

Problem Gambling Service

In August 1988, the Toronto District Health Council released an assessment of the needs for Problem Gambling in Toronto. The report recommended that services be confidential and sensitive to language, religion, and cultural background; and that public education materials on gambling and problem gambling be available in different languages. In addition, the report emphasized the need for ethnocultural communities to be involved in the development of services.

In response to meeting the growing need for service within ethnocultural communities, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Problem Gambling Service approached COSTI to partner with them in the development of a model of service that combined treatment and prevention to ethnocultural communities. With funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, a three-year pilot project was conceived.

Six ethnocultural communities were selected for research on the issue of gambling and problem gambling based on population and community capacity in Toronto. The Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil and Vietnamese [Adobe PDF files, 100 KB], speaking communities participated in community-based research to investigate the attitudes, perceptions and beliefs in their respective communities on the issue of gambling and problem gambling.

COSTI Family and Mental Health Services' experience in delivering culturally sensitive counselling services led to the development of a model for intervention for the Italian Canadian community. The model adapts and modifies current mainstream counselling techniques in the field of problem gambling, in order to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate treatment.

Today, the Problem Gambling Service at COSTI provides culturally and linguistically appropriate counselling for individuals experiencing gambling problems as well as for their family members. Services are available to individuals of Italian, Hispanic and Portuguese background.

In addition to counselling, the COSTI Problem Gambling Service also collaborates with a number of ethno-specific agencies to deliver awareness activities regarding gambling and problem gambling for the Hindi, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Sinhalese, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil and Vietnamese speaking communities.

Most recently, in collaboration with the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), COSTI produced a new resource kit for use with recent newcomers to Canada. New Beginnings: Problem Gambling Awareness Kit for Newcomers in Ethnocultural Communities provides information on problem gambling and offers suggestions on prevention.

In addition, in collaboration with the Problem Gambling Service, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, COSTI has also developed a Multilingual Problem Gambling Service. Counsellors working in ethno-specific agencies have been trained to provide problem gambling counselling. Problem gambling counselling and outreach services are available in the following 19 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese.