RGC on Linked in @RGCouncil RGCouncilCanada
Open Mobile Nav Open Mobile Search

Who is RGC?

The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to problem gambling prevention.

more about us...

Discovery Conference 2013 – Getting to Action

May 10, 2013

Newscan (Vol. 15, Issue 17)

Another Discovery conference is in the books and once again for 2013, attendees from the problem and responsible gambling sectors were treated to some thought-provoking, innovative and insightful sessions. “If there was a theme to this year’s session selections, it’s this—action…”, said RGC CEO Jon Kelly, “…or more precisely, the examination of what it takes to turn thinking into doing.”

This was most evident in two sessions: Discovery’s popular backroom focus group and a unique and inventive workshop called The Bears’ Den.

Examining the Decision to Act

At the focus group, attendees listened and watched live via closed-circuit video as a group of people who have experienced gambling problems and sought help discussed their experiences. Specifically, the facilitator, Kelly Adams, invited them to share what motivated them to seek help, and why.

“Hearing the journeys that led these individuals to treatment,” says Jamie Wiebe, Director of Research and Development at RGC, “I was reminded that there is no single reason that underlies the decision to get help. There are a multitude of very personal factors that lead to ‘hitting bottom’—a fact that needs to be reflected in our approach to how we offer help for people.”

Ideas and Dragons and Bears, oh my!

Answering the call to action, a passionate and creative group entered the Bears’ Den to brainstorm ideas to encourage people experiencing problems with their gambling to seek treatment. The resulting ideas “made clear the need to create avenues to treatment that are much more friendly, inviting and enticing,” said Glenn Pothier, the workshop creator and facilitator.

Loosely based on the popular show Dragons’ Den on CBC television (where entrepreneurs are invited to pitch their business idea to a panel of investors), participants in The Bears’ Den presented their idea(s) to a panel of problem gambling sector insiders who identified their favourite approach from the groups.

The ‘Bears’ represented a cross-section of the sector and included:

  • Terry Finn, RGC board chair and recovering problem gambler
  • Kim Wilson, in social responsibility at Atlantic Lottery
  • Bambi Blondin, with the Responsible Gaming Resource Centre in Windsor, Ontario
  • Mark Knighton, of Playscan in Sweden

This unique offering for Discovery 2013 was fun and, at times, boisterous, but the intent was serious and the outcome was thoughtful and enthused.

“All of the groups put a lot of work and creativity into their ideas and presentations,” said Finn. “It wasn’t easy to pick a favourite. I was really impressed by what they came up with.”

In the end, the panel selected MySecretLife.com, an idea proposed by the group led by Claude Boutin, a clinical psychologist. At MySecretlife.com, visitors would find communities of people who can offer them alternatives to gambling. “Frequent motivation for gamblers to gamble is the desire to feel the ‘high,’ to forget their troubles or to prove their self-worth or boost their self-esteem,” Boutin said.

“[The site] is comparable to a social network,” he continued. “For example, someone could choose to chat with Peter (an ex-gambler) who says that he can teach someone how to rock-climb to find the ‘high.’ Sylvia (current gambler) might share that dancing or creating a piece of art with someone helps her develop self-satisfaction or self-esteem. The proposed site is based on the philosophy that gamblers are not sick, that their needs are legitimate, and that they can continue to have a ‘secret life,’ but that balance is the key.”

Happy Anniversary RGC

Discovery 2013 was also an opportunity for the Responsible Gambling Council to mark its 30-year anniversary. “It has been a remarkable journey since RGC was founded in 1983—in no small part because of the extraordinary pace of changes in policy, technology and knowledge that has occurred over that time,” said CEO Jon Kelly during his opening remarks.

Many other sessions contributed to the success of this year’s Discovery. Download available session presentations here. Thank you to everyone who helped make Discovery 2013 a success.