Why then talk about Ethno/Multicultural Communities and gambling?

Ethno-cultural communities are under-represented in gambling treatment. The lack of appropriate culturally sensitive counselling services, as well as the issue of language means that these populations don’t have equal access to services and therefore they may be in a more vulnerable situation.

According to the 2006 Census, (www.statscanadaCanada has welcomed more than 14 million immigrants since 1901, over 1 million arriving in the last 5 years.  The  number and percentage of foreign born in Canada has steadily increased since 1986.  In Toronto 45.7% of the population are foreign born and over 200 different ethnic groups were reported.  The percentage of foreign  born also increased in other cities, in St. Catharines-Niagara 18.3%, London 19.3%, Kitchener 23.1% and Windsor 23.3%, Hamilton 24.4% , Guelph 20.4%, etc. Taking into consideration these demographics, it is important to consider the needs of these communities in regards problem gambling service delivery.

As stated in the 2004, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, CAMH, “Provincial Diversity Needs Assessment Report”,  “the proportion of diverse ethnocultural/ethnoracial populations in Ontario has increased significantly, culturally and linguistically appropriate services are still few in number.  Diverse ethnocultural/ethnoracial communities often have different beliefs and attitudes toward mental health, mental health problem and substance use, and different opinions about what constitutes an appropriate model of treatment.  Western ideas about mental health problems and addiction are not always applicable to people from other cultural backgrounds.  A participant from the Rwandan community explains, “There is no concept of mental health in our community…. And there is terminology for addiction”.  Focus group participants wanted outreach to diverse ethnocultural/ethnoracial groups… as well as the development of language-specific and culturally sensitive approaches for these populations.”

However, due to the increase in gambling venues in Canada and globally, more research on gambling and ethno-cultural communities is necessary. During the recent years, we have seen a great emphasis regarding problem gambling and members of different ethno-cultural communities and their families.  As of May 2001, the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (OPGRC) has awarded $1.6 million for research focusing on special populations., including ethno-cultural groups. Various organizations such as COSTI Immigrant Services, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH, and the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre have conducted research among different ethno-cultural communities.   One can have access to “Addressing Problem Gambling in Toronto and Windsor/Essex County Ethnic communities and Exploration of Cultural Perceptions ( and “Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Gambling and Problem Gambling in the Hispanic, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Tamil and Vietnamese Communities in the Greater Toronto Area” full reports, by linking the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (  and or COSTI Immigrant Services (

The results of the above mentioned research will be a great help to overcome the information gap regarding ethno-cultural groups and gambling.   More information will hopefully lead to the development of better, culturally and linguistically effective practices for the assessment and treatment of problem gambling for ethno-cultural populations.