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A Centennial College Student plays “Check Your Reflex” an interactive video game designed to raise awareness of problem gambling habits. (Corey Baird/CTV News Toronto)

Sometimes the safest bet is no bet at all.

Students at Centennial College in Scarborough received a hands-on tutorial on Tuesday that showed them how gambling habits can develop in mere seconds.

A large LED display attracted a lot of attention at the school’s Morningside Avenue campus. Students were invited to play an interactive video game meant to mimic the effects and emotional responses people experience while gambling.

“Eighteen to 24 year olds, 7.1 per cent of them do have a severe to moderate gambling problem,” said Danielle Ayee, the team leader of Check Your Reflex, a pilot program created by the non-profit Responsible Gambling Council.

The initiative falls under the umbrella of the provincial ministry of health, aiming to identify and isolate addictive tendencies before they become habitual.

“What we know about this age group is they’re greater risk takers,” Ayee told CTV News Toronto.

Tethered to a joystick, participants use their reflexes to try and time their responses to a set of flashing patterns.

“The joystick has sensors that measure the emotional change they feel while they’re playing through the sweat in their hands,” Ayee explained. “We relate that back to them as if you were to gamble you might have feelings like excitement and wanting to play again or frustration and losing.”

“It was a 620 per cent change in my emotional state itself,” said Cyrase Suresh moments after playing the game. “It showed me to be more aware of making decisions before the moment of playing.”

“When I was playing the game I was feeling good,” Nihal Malik said. “But then I got to understand you tend to feel the same way when gambling and you tend to overspend, which leads to problems. So, definitely, I’d rather stay away from gambling.”

The Responsible Gambling Council is a non-profit entity that receives funding for a variety of projects in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.