What is Gambling Addiction?
If you cannot go a few hours without turning on your phone to gamble, you might be in trouble. If you gamble with money meant for school fees, rent, or other important responsibilities, then it is time to take a step and accept you may have a gambling addiction problem.
Compulsive gambling presents in different ways. Some people may start lying about their activities or hiding their online history because they know they are on the wrong path. They could also skip family events or spend time with their loved ones so they can gamble. Some have it so bad that they neglect their jobs and responsibilities altogether, and the only thing they can think of at any time is gambling. It creeps in slowly, so many people think they have a grip on their activities until they are in too deep.
Gambling Addiction Causes
Several factors lead to gambling addiction.
- Lack of bankroll management skills.
- The allure of fame.
- The enabling atmosphere of the gambling scene
When most gamblers start playing online or offline, they believe they have control over their appetites, but soon that may change. Winning changes people by making them believe they can get even more, so the desire to get richer quickly takes over. The promise of easy money makes one believe they can make a fortune. Lack of bankroll management skills makes one spend the money they should not be spending too.
Casinos are naturally ambient because most people are attracted to what they see. The music in the background of a land-based casino, free-flowing drinks, and the celebratory mood all around make one feel better about their odds than they should, leading them to gamble some more. When you win, the cheers from onlookers make you so excited that you want to keep going just to be the center of attention. Some people also like the fame that comes with winning huge amounts of money. If they are lucky to knock out jackpots, they want to repeat that so they can be the talk of the town for a while.
Unfortunately, most gamblers lose themselves in these games. Where they had control at the beginning, they start falling fast into the abyss that is addiction. Due to the stigma associated with any addiction, most addicts hardly seek help. They wallow in their own despair alone when trying to solve a problem that may be a little too difficult to handle on their own, sadly.
How to Prevent Gambling Addiction?
Gambling is gloom and a hard habit to kick, but you can nip it at the bud. Most casinos give pointers on how to play, but the writing is too small for most gamblers to notice. You want to pace yourself even when you are winning and learn to walk away from the table when you feel like losing control. Even though it is easier said than done, you can prevent addiction by following the pointers below.
Limit Your Time
You can set the alarm for when to play and stay on the game for as long as you have the time. Once the alarm goes off, walk away from the table. Excessive gambling eats time off productive activities such as family time, studying, work, or even playing, so knowing how to walk away without turning back is a skill that goes a long way into building a healthy gambling habit. Since online casinos are open 24/7, choose the time that does not interfere with your other important tasks. Set the time you need to get it out of your system and stick to it, no matter how much you are pulled to play on.
Set Deposit Limit
Bankroll management is a highly underrated yet critical skill for every gambler. You want to decide how much you will be spending for the session and stick to it. Keep your winnings, accept your losses, and remember that you still have another day to play and win (or lose). Casinos allow you to set your limit so that your game ends when you exhaust your ceiling for the day. This makes it easier for lots of people to manage how much they play.
You want to avoid funding your gaming account through a credit card, as you could easily go above your limit. Prepaid cards such as Paysafecard are ideal for those who are not sure they can control their expenditure.
Don’t Play with an Unclear Mind
If you are in the habit of using gambling as therapy when you are down or sad, you may want to get an alternative, healthier hobby. Emotions – including excessive happiness – are blinding and could have you making the wrong decisions. The best time to slot in a game is when you are in an easy mental state, with no outside factors taking over and making you see things differently from reality. Alcohol distorts your judgement, so just try and approach the gambling table in your soberest.
Play Only for Fun
Most people get addicted when they start playing for real money because it gets a little too competitive over time. Gamblers start feeling invincible when the wins start coming and can easily get sucked into addiction if they are not careful. Play for fun since the free demos are available for all players. When you feel you have a grip on yourself and can play for real money, ease into it slowly and check yourself when your risk appetite is getting out of control. If you monitor yourself all through, you could avoid addiction.
One Win is Enough
Allow yourself to walk away when you get that one win instead of trying your luck with the next, as you may not be as successful the second time. You could avoid the addiction trap if you learn to call it a day after the first win or the initial few losses. Most gamblers fall into the temptation of playing a second game, and before they know it, they are on their tenth and losing. Efforts to recoup losses lead players to gamble even more and longer, so it helps to know when to fold and go home.
Requirements for Operators and Software Vendors
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the UK Gambling Commission are two of the best-known casino licensing bodies that require their charges to look out for players. Each site they license should have limits to allow gamblers to self-check.
Restricting the Use of Credit Cards
Credit cards give users a reason to spend beyond their means, but licensors can help here. The UK and The Netherlands banned the funding of gaming accounts using credit cards to protect those that might not have enough control of their actions. The idea promotes the thought that players should only gamble with money they can afford to lose.
Session Limits or the Deposit Limits
Players should have the option to choose when to exist casino sites through session limits. Since most people have little control of their actions when winning or losing heavily, these limits usually force them to end their sessions after specific triggers. The same applies to deposit limits where a player can no longer fund their account until a set period has passed. Most casinos have these conditions in place, but they could do more to let players know they do exist.
You may want to take a break to pace yourself when you notice you’re falling into gambling addiction, and your casino should enable this by offering you the self-exclusion service. It lets you exclude yourself from gambling at that particular site for the period you’ve chosen so you can re-evaluate yourself. You will have no access to the site’s products during this time, so you cannot gamble.
Signs You May Be Gambling Addicted
No one gets addicted right away. The steps are consistent in most gamblers, so you may be able to notice when you or someone you care about it getting in too deep.
- Stage 1: The gambler cannot seem to stop playing, whether they lose or win. They just want to keep going as though they are competing against their personal best.
- Stage 2: Chasing Losses – The house is designed to win in the long run, so all wins come to an end at some point. The losing gambler will not accept losing, so they will chase these losses and sink deeper in the pit.
- Stage 3: Despair – This is usually the last stage when someone is so deep that they need some form of therapy to get out. Nothing feels better at this level, and even a random win does not bring the thrill it did before. The gambler needs several wins or losses to feel any emotion.
When you are addicted to the game, you only play games of chance for real money this entire time. Free games do not entice you. You may even get aggressive when confronted and will not need an excuse to play. You could abscond from your duties and responsibilities for a round of slots. Because it gets expensive, you may allow yourself to get into debt just to satisfy the part of you that gambling appeases. It only gets worse from here, so you may want to seek help before hitting rock bottom.
Getting Help for a Gambling Problem
If you or anyone you care about gamble convulsively, you can seek help through Gambling Anonymous sites open to all people regardless of their geographical location.
The NCPG’s major programs include the following:
- National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700): ensures local problem gambling help is just one call away anywhere in the US.
- National Referral Resource: NCPG maintains the only nationwide online directories of certified counselors and inpatient/residential treatment facilities that offer specialized help in problem gambling, plus state-by-state referral resource listings.
- Problem Gambling Awareness Month: An annual grassroots campaign in March aiming to raise awareness about problem gambling and to educate the public and healthcare professionals about the availability of help and hope. In 2018, over 200 organizations participated in encouraging stakeholders to “Have the Conversation” about problem gambling and explore the many meanings of this theme by providing free press releases, screening tools, logo files, wearable messaging and other resources.
- National Conference on Problem Gambling: The oldest and largest annual conference of its kind. Approximately 500 regulators, legislators, counselors, researchers, industry executives and recovering gamblers attend each year. Specific in-depth training is provided for all aspects of the field and top researchers present their latest findings. Up to 30 hours of Continuing Education Units may be earned over the 2-day Pre-Conference Workshops and 2-day Main Conference. The location changes each year, hosted by a state Affiliate and offering each region of the country easy access on a rotating basis.
- Lottery Holiday Responsible Gaming Campaign: Created in partnership with the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University, this campaign encourages adults to be aware of the risks of giving lottery products to minors as holiday gifts because those who start gambling at a young age are more likely to develop a problem later in life. NCPG partners with lottery organizations, providing free resources such as press release samples, social media guidelines and advertising materials, to launch their own independent campaigns. In 2017, 54 U.S. and international lotteries participated in the Campaign. Endorsed by the World Lottery Association (WLA).
- NASPL/NCPG Responsible Gambling Verification Program (RGV): In partnership with the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, RGV is an independent review of lottery efforts to plan, implement and sustain their programs in RG in accordance with NCPG standards. Free to NASPL members.
- Internet Compliance Assessment Program (iCAP): Independent reviewers assess an internet gambling site’s compliance with NCPG’s Internet Responsible Gaming Standards, the first such standards developed for the U.S. market.
- Responsible Gaming Principles for Sports Gambling Legislation: Provides a basis for new regulations and legislation that may be enacted by individual states to allow sports betting. The principles will help protect individuals, gaming companies, and legislators by assisting the creation of reasonable efforts to prevent harm and provide treatment.
- Risk Education for Athletes Program (REAP): educates athletes of all ages about the personal and professional risks involved with gambling and how to be smart in risky situations.
Besides you can get one of the IGCCB certificates to become a counselor and help people with gambling addiction. One of the programs includes International Gaming Disorder Certificate (IGDC) focused on the real practices and evidenced-based approaches from a niche specialist, that are emerging for the treatment of gaming and digital misuse, as well as the intersection with problem gambling addiction and gambling disorders.
The Good: Gambling is exciting and fun, and it could bring you a side income if you are lucky. It could help you deal with some life issues, too, such as depression and overall anxiety. When you master bankroll management, you can apply some of the lessons to your real life. When you learn to control your appetite for the “free money” from gambling, you could improve your quality of life.
The Bad: Self-control is easier said than done when it comes to gambling. A small win gives you so much confidence in your abilities that you may find yourself going beyond your limit. It is also quite hard not to get the urge to chase losses. What should you do? If you are yet to get started, think for a long second whether you are strong enough to resist gambling even when you shouldn’t. If you are not sure, then don’t start. If you are already in it for the money, keep checking yourself to see where you are in the stages we mentioned. The goal is not to get addicted, so gambling is okay as long as you are in control. When you feel yourself slipping, get out as soon as you can.