Gambling Addiction - Fighting the Problem and Seeking Help

In this article, we will tackle the issue of gambling addictions. We will touch on different aspects of this topic, including how to accept that you have a gambling problem, the cause of the addiction, where you can find help, and how to play responsibly. Please keep reading to find out more.

CountryWebsitePhone Number
United-Stateshttps://www.ncpgambling.org/1-800-522-4700
Canadahttps://www.responsiblegambling.org/+1 416 499-9800
United Kingdomhttps://www.gamcare.org.uk/0808 8020 133
South Africahttps://responsiblegambling.org.za/0800 006 008
New Zealandhttps://www.gamblinghelpline.co.nz/0800 654 655
Australiahttps://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/1800 858 858

Defining a Gambling Addiction

What is gambling addiction? As Mayo Clinic puts it, gambling addiction is when a player is on a downward spiral of uncontrollable gaming. Naturally, the repercussions are detrimental, as problem gamblers can sometimes be left with empty bank accounts and huge amounts of debt. In turn, they may resort to other methods such as stealing, to make sure they always have enough money to gamble.

Besides the money side of things, addicts also end up in situations where their families are torn apart due to their gambling addiction. They often isolate themselves from their friends or only speak to them if they need money to support their gaming addiction.

Whilst this doesn’t happen to everyone, it is still something that we need to talk about. In particular, people suffering from disorders such as anxiety, clinical depression, ADHD or have substance abuse issues, are very likely to fall into a gambling addiction help. They think that this is the only way to avoid their problems, but in the long run, they’re creating further problems for themselves and their loved ones.

Statistics

Whilst gambling provides an entertaining experience, this can get scary sometimes. If we look at a few figures, Addictions.com remarks that 80% of American adults gamble every year. Unfortunately, 3-5 out of every 100 gamblers struggle with a gambling addiction.

Similarly, the UK Gambling Commission has also released a few statistics from a 2016 survey. In total, 56% of people have identified themselves as gamblers. Out of that percentage, 42% took part in gambling activities; this excludes players who participated in National Lottery draws. More results show that 3.6% of UK citizens are at low/moderate risk of developing a gambling addiction, whilst 6.6% of gamblers are also at low/moderate risk of living with a problem gambling. However, we can’t ignore the other percentages. 0.7% of UK citizens identify themselves as problem gamblers, whilst 1.2% of UK gamblers identify themselves as problem gamblers.

If we look at a report published by the Malta Gaming Authority - An Inquiry into the Consumption of Gambling and Gaming Services by Maltese Residents in 2017, some of the results were very interesting. In one particular survey, 1% or 2% of the Maltese population reported adverse effects on their lifestyle once they started availing games against payment.

The categories were as follows:

  • Players with financial problems (0.70%)
  • An increase in smoking whilst playing (0.50%)
  • Perceived problem of excessive playing (0.50%)
  • Playing to forget problems (1.00%)
  • playing to solve financial problems (1.40%)
  • Abstaining from things to play (0.90%).

For the most part, all statistics are quite low, but the fact of the matter is that some people do struggle with gambling problems. These statistics are not suggesting that gambling is the cause of many social problems and addiction, however, they do suggest that the percentages arise from unregulated gambling activities. Therefore, we need to make sure that these people are safeguarded.

In the next sections, we’ll be looking at the signs you need to watch out for, how you can help and how to increase awareness about responsible gaming.

Symptoms of Problem Gambling

At some point, people struggling with a gambling addiction will display signs of the problem. Whilst everyone is different, these are some of the main flags you should watch out for:

The inability to stop gambling. It’s one thing enjoying a couple of hours, but it’s another if someone spends so much time online or at a land-based casino. Not sticking to a budget also plays an important part here. Some problem gamblers end up living beyond their means.

Problem gamblers may also display signs of mood swings. Naturally, you can either win or lose. In this regard, they may display excessive emotions of frustration, ambition, excitement, anger, anxiety and depression.

Gambling addicts often go to certain extremes to make sure that they have money to gamble. Some of these include stealing money from friends and family members, using student loans, taking out bank/payday loans from the bank

Sneaking around and beating around the bush to cover up the fact that they have a gambling problem.

When gambling starts to affect day to day activities in someone’s lifestyle. Some of these avoiding family and friends to gamble, slacking on work, not sleeping, missing out on date nights, cancelling holidays etc. Bottom line, gambling becomes the number 1 priority in gambling addict’s life.

Problem gamblers also shift their attention on certain vices. They turn their attention to excessive drinking and smoking and sometimes even hard drugs.

Making up for losses by continuing to play. Sometimes, players keep playing until they manage to get back everything they lost. In this case, problem gamblers are unable to create a distinction between money that is used for playing and money that is needed to pay the bills.

Losing a home, job, or have all utilities shut off as a result of excessive gambling.

If you’re experiencing any of these problems, or know someone who’s struggling with a gambling addiction, the following sections will point you in the right direction.

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addition

If you’re trying to put someone on the road to recovery from a gambling addiction, you need to keep in mind a few do’s and don’ts. Especially since this is a very delicate situation, you need to make sure you say and do the right things. One bad move can only make things worse for the person you’re trying to help. Check out the table for some suggestions.

Do’sDon’ts
Point them to legitimate sources such as Gamblers Anonymous, where they can share their problems with other addictsDon’t help them cover their tracks. In the long run, this would cause more damage to them, their friends and their family.
Always be calm when you’re talking to them, especially if you’re focusing on the consequences of excessive gambling.Don’t expect them to stop gambling immediately. You need to trust the process and accept that this is something that can take months or years.
Show them that you’re seeking help because their gambling addiction is also affecting you, friends and other family members.Never lose control over your emotions by lecturing them. This will only create a divide between you and the person you’re trying to help.
Help monitor their finances or get a trusted family member to help, until they find the guidance they need, to fight the addiction.Don’t encourage them to alienate themselves from family and friends. Instead, help them establish a sense of normality in their lives.
Encourage them to still seek the company of their loved ones.Never give them ultimatums, as this will only escalate things and possibly delay counselling sessions.
Focus on the positive qualities they can still offer to the world.Don’t discuss their gambling addiction with other people without their consent.
Accept that treatment will take some time. In this way, you can make the necessary preparations for therapy sessions etc.Whilst it’s important to help them get through it, try not to be overbearing.

Practicing Responsible Gaming

As stated by MGA, responsible gaming is a paramount objective that drives their regulatory ethos. In this regard, the Authority is able to safeguard all players and ultimately their overall protection. By mastering all the rules of responsible gaming, more research can be done to help problem gamblers tackle their addiction in a more coherent fashion.

Bearing this in mind, here are a few things you can do to practice responsible game as per eCogra’s regulations:

✔️ Never use the money you need to pay utility bills, school loans, paycheck etc. for casino games. It’s best to set a budget, to avoid mixing the money used for leisure and the money you need to get by.

✔️ Opt for demos until you get used to the house edge. In this way, you can get a better idea of the outcomes you can expect.

✔️ Don’t always expect to win. Online casino games are regulated with a Random Number Generator (RNG), to make sure all outcomes are fair as per eCogra’s regulations.

✔️ Set a time limit for your online gambling sessions. Don’t exceed a certain number of hours per day.

✔️ Along with setting a time limit, you can also take week-long/month-long breaks. Especially if you’re on the verge of succumbing to a gambling addiction, this will help you regulate your gambling sessions.

✔️ Never use other people’s money to gamble. Don’t lie to them by saying you need it for something important. This will only result in more repercussions.

✔️ Set a budget. Never gamble beyond your means.

✔️ Remember that even though money is involved, gambling is an entertaining experience. Try to main the element of fun even by opting for free games, instead of focusing on the losses.

✔️ If you think you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, stop participating in online sessions and seek help.

Seeking Help

Admitting that you are a problem gambler is the first step towards recovery. Keep in mind that there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you need help. We understand that you might be scared to talk to your family and friends about the problem, but if you keep alienating yourself from them, the situation would be even more detrimental.

Remember that you’re not alone in this. Loads of people around the globe are sharing the same problem as you. Nevertheless, by seeking help from experts of the field, can do you a world of good. Similarly, you can join local or online support groups, where you can share your story with other fellow problem gamblers. In the long run, it’s very likely that you will beat your gambling addiction if you seek some form of help, rather than opting to do it alone.

Although casinos want new players to join their platform, their first priority is their players’ safety and security. If they feel that you are battling a gambling addiction, they have an obligation put this to your attention. In this case, they have the power to permanently prohibit you from playing by banning your account.

Just like anything else, the recovery process will take time. Once you feel you’re getting better, don’t go back to old habits. Instead, try banning other accounts so that you can resist any temptations. You don’t have to be hard on yourself, but you have to trust the process.

Seeking Help:
  • Gamblers Anonymous: A worldwide organization were problem gamblers can express their thoughts and share their addiction stories.
  • Gamcare: A UK based organization, that offers counselling to those battling a gambling addiction.
  • National Council on Problem Gambling: Based in the United States of America, the National Council on Problem Gambling aims to help gambling addicts and their families get the necessary treatment. Additionally, it also seeks to increase public knowledge and awareness of gambling addiction.