Problem gambling, gambling addiction, pathological or compulsive gambling are all terms to describe gambling behaviours that are harmful or have negative consequences for the player, the people around them and the community/society in general. The inability of the player to stop spending a lot of time, money and energy on gambling, which eventually will affect their personal, financial and social well-being.
Why do people become addicted to gambling?
Gambling addictions have the same complex and multiple causes as other forms of addiction. It seems to depends on psychological, social and biological factors regarding the player. However, the combination of factors which lead to one player becoming addicted to gambling and another one having no problem is unknown, and possibly unique to each player.
How can we recognize problem gambling?
Although officially classified as a ‘compulsive disorder’, an addiction to gambling is in many ways comparable to a substance addiction. That’s why it’s essential to recognize a potential problem as early as possible to be able to offer or get help and prevent the situation from worsening. Signs of problematic gambling can be:
- The player is constantly preoccupied with gambling or the next opportunity to gamble
- The player spends more and more time and money on gambling
- The player neglects work or study, as well as social ties with friends and family
- The player starts to borrow, steal or fraudulently obtain money to gamble
- The player often arrives late to appointments, has unexplained absences, calls in sick more than normal, and is secretive about their whereabouts
- The player undergoes changes in personality, has mood swings, seems worried, agitated or irritated, is depressed, and displays manipulative and controlling behaviour
- The player’s finances are a mess
Many websites offer an online test which can assess if a gambling problem has developed, is developing or might develop.
How to prevent and deal with problem gambling?
The ultimate way to completely prevent a gambling problem is of course to never play or bet at all. However, the vast majority of gamblers never run the risk of becoming addicted to gambling. In fact, the vast majority of gamblers are perfectly capable of controlling their habit, thus making sure betting at a bookmaker stays exactly as it should be; an exciting and fun form of entertainment.
One way to prevent addiction is to regularly take one of the self-tests available on the internet or read more about the possible signs of a gambling problem. This will keep a player aware of the possible dangers of gambling and at the same time conscious about what factors to pay attention to.
In case you suspect a friend or family member to have a gambling problem, it’s absolutely necessary to not condemn or judge the player or confront them with feelings of anger, betrayal or disappointment. In fact, the person needs help and support, and you should suggest they use the links below to seek free professional help.
Problem gambling is extremely complex and well-meant interventions of family and friends to help the addicted loved-one might turn out to have a disastrous effect and may even make the matter worse for all involved parties. So it’s best to seek immediate professional counselling on how to deal with the problem.
To help players keep their betting experience fun and exciting and avoid any problems, the concept of ‘Responsible Gaming’ was developed.
Responsible Gaming is a ‘code of conduct’ to which licensed bookmakers adhere to, which upholds the highest standards of safety, reliability, player protection, fair gaming, information privacy and customer support.
Responsible Gaming also provides a ‘code of conduct’ to players, which offers a set of tips to maintain responsible gambling
Tips for Responsible gambling
Here are some essential tips which can help keep gambling fun and under control:
- Set limits for the time and the money you want to spend on gambling and stick to them
- Accept losses as the cost for your gambling entertainment
- Never keep on playing to make up for losses (don’t chase losses)
- Never borrow money to fund gambling
- Only play with money you can afford to lose
- Never let gaming interfere with commitments or relationships
- Don’t gamble while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or when emotionally unstable.
Professional help for problem gamblers and their friends and families
There are several websites and organizations which provide more information about problem gambling and/or offer professional help for players with a gambling problem and their friends/families.
GamCare: This UK based independent charity is one of the most renowned organizations dedicated to gambling addictions and providing assistance to problematic gamblers.
Gambling Therapy: This website is aimed at problematic gamblers outside the UK and with a website available in 29 languages.
NCPG-US: The website of the National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG) of the United States of Americ, which offers various self-assessment tests which can and should be used by gamblers to assess whether they show signs of addiction.
Australian Problem Gambling
Australian National Problem Gambling Portal: The Official National portal of the Australian Government. Offering risk assessment tests, online self help tools, Live Chat as well as support forums.
Gamblers Anonymous : The website of self-help group Gamblers Anonymous.
Gam-Anon: The website of Gam-Anon, the support and self help group for family and friends of problematic gamblers.