Gambling Problem – Get Help When You Need It

Like any pastime, gambling can be a source of fun and entertainment but it can also be highly addictive. Unfortunately, gambling for some people becomes more than a fun time and occasional distraction or hobby.

Some people become addicted to the highs associated with the activity and can lose control of both their behavior and the money they're spending. The consequences of such a problem are quite obviously very severe - losing money one can't afford, damaged relationships with friends and family, detrimental effect on one's job, etc. Gambling addiction is a serious problem for many people and there are differing degrees. Before getting hooked or spending any money, take the time to familiarize yourself with the issue and understand its signs, symptoms, and the help available for combating it. In this article you will find the major signs of gambling addiction, in addition to offering advice on how to recognize and deal with addictive behaviour.

Gambling Problems

GamblingProblemsAlthough a great number of gambling addicts may realise they have a problem, the impulse to recreate the ecstasy of winning is infinitely more powerful. Addiction is most often associated with substances such as alcohol, nicotine and various other prescription or illegal drugs. On a very basic level it can be attached to any activity or substance that is consumed or carried out to an unhealthy level. Addictive activities include shopping, eating, video gaming or even competitive sport. It also comes in the form of month-long gambling binges in front of a computer into the early hours of the morning.

Having a gambling problem and becoming an addict is not a conscious decision. It can be caused by a number of different factors, including genetic vulnerability, social pressures, personality characteristics and psychiatric problems. In a lot of cases, it starts with one seemingly harmless action. In the case of gambling, this could be placing a small bet on a winning team.

The internet has added yet another level of addiction for those who do not manage their gambling problem. In tandem with this, online gambling has allowed the gambler to escape into an insular world where there are seemingly no boundaries. The combination of these technologies has meant that the gambler or potential gambler should take control from day one to prevent fun from becoming destructive.

Noticing the Warning Signs of a Gambling Problem

To work out whether you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties due to gambling, try answering the following questions:

Do you:

  • Find yourself reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money to gamble?
  • Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to feel the excitement?
  • Become restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling?
  • Gamble as a way of escaping from problems or relieving guilt, anxiety or depression?
  • Often return another day in order to get even or chase your losses after gambling?
  • Lie to family members, friends, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling?
  • Participate in illegal activities (e.g. forgery, fraud or theft) in order to finance your gambling?
  • Jeopardize or lose a significant relationship, job or educational or career opportunity because of gambling?
  • Rely on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling?
  • Attempt to control, cut back or stop gambling but are unable to do so?

 Check your score below:

1-2: at-risk
3-4: gambling problem
5 or more : compulsive gambler

Tips to Stay in Control of Your Gambling:

Given the current online and offline gambling climate, and based on current research, the best way to stay in control is to set personal spending limits from the moment you start. The ideal time to do this is from the very first moment you place a bet, go online to gamble, or engage in any form of activity where there is money and odds involved. Don’t spend more than you can reasonably afford to lose.

Responsible gambling doesn’t stop with the points mentioned above. There are other suggestions to help you out if you have a problem gambling, especially as an online gambler: 

  1. Get a Hobby: Make other non-gambling activities part of your daily life.
  2. Choose a Casino that Caps your Spending: Choose an online gambling website that implements proper codes of practice for keeping track of spend.
  3. Know the Rules: Before playing any game, make sure you understand all of the rules and terminology. With so many online casinos offering the opportunity to play for free before wagering any money, there's really no excuse for wagering (and losing) money on a game you don't fully understand.
  4. Pace Yourself: It's never fun to run out of money after only 15-30 min of playing. Remember, the casino experience is meant to be fun so it's important to try and make smart bets, which always leave you with something to gamble with later.
  5. Keep a Budget: Place a limit on the amount of money you're willing to lose. More importantly, make sure this is an amount you can afford to lose. Leave the ATM cards at home and as tempting as it may be to pour a little more money in when you're down, try and realize that if you remain disciplined and stop at the limit you've set for yourself, you'll avoid the anguish of losing more than you can afford and all of the problems associated with it.
  6. Don't 'Chase' Losses: Although the temptation can be great, try to avoid making larger bets to recuperate previous losses. This only exacerbates the problem. Instead, accept the loss, move to another game or table, take a break, or just walk away.
  7. Don't be Distracted: Stay focused on the game you're playing. This prevents losing money as a result of careless mistakes.
  8. Take Breaks: Try to take breaks as frequently as possible. Not only will this prolong your experience, but it can also prevent you from getting stuck in a rut where you might be tempted to make foolish bets in the hopes of recovering previous losses. Furthermore, this will help to keep you fresh and alert - always a good thing when participating in any activity requiring concentration and thought.
  9. Emotion: If you're angry or depressed, avoid gambling during these moments. Remember, good gambling requires focus and if you let emotions interfere with your judgment, you stand to make bets that you otherwise wouldn't make and thus, lose money you hadn't planned on losing.

Get Help When You Notice the Warning Signs

Gambling problem helpCompulsive gambling, problem gambling, gambling addiction... Call it what you will, but whatever it is, it's a serious issue in today's gaming industry. Recent reports suggest that gambling problems, in general and across all demographics, is on the rise. According to the most recent statistics from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), as much as 5% of the adult population exhibits the traits of a compulsive gambler with 1% exhibiting pathological gambling problems (aka gambling addiction).

If you suspect that you, a family member, or a friend may be a compulsive gambler, remember that there's always help available. There is never any shame in recognising you have a problem, and asking for help when you need it – in fact, it’s actually a sign of courage and strength to admit you have a problem and then take the steps to fix the issue. Contact your local gambling addiction authority for assistance. We have listed some useful links and contact numbers below:

Useful references to help your gambling problem