Gambling is an exciting form of entertainment that millions of people from all over the world enjoy daily. Casino games, betting, and other types of pastimes where the potential to win money is involved can be extremely fun and also lucrative at times.
However, gambling also has a downside and it’s associated with certain risks. We’re talking about risks besides the obvious risk of losing the money you’re playing with.
On the following page, we’ll discuss these risks and how you can spot that you or someone close to you is losing control. We’ll also go into detail about what you can do to prevent these risks and provide tips on how to stop it and regain control when needed.
You see, even though we run this site to help you become a better casino player or teach you how to improve your sports betting strategies, we also have a responsibility to keep our customers safe. And the best way to do that is to educate you about how to gamble responsibly.
The Risks of Gambling
As mentioned, when playing at casinos or participating in sports betting – both online and “IRL” – there are certain risks that you have to be aware of. The main one being gambling addiction.
In fact, gambling addiction is a rather widespread issue that affects a lot of people. Even if you’ve never had problems with other addictions and even if you never drink alcohol or take drugs, you do run the risk of getting addicted to gambling.
A common myth is that only people who can’t afford to gamble can get addicted, which isn’t true at all. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – let’s rewind and start from the top.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
A gambling addiction, just like addictions to chemical substances, sex, etc. is classified as a mental health issue. It’s defined as an issue when the gambler can’t stop playing even when he or she realizes that it’s hurting their life and the life of people around them, and when the person no longer can control the urge to play regardless of the consequences of their actions.
There are many reasons why people become addicted to gambling. For some, it’s solely psychological or social and based on their personal relationship to gambling.
For others, it’s biological. It’s actually been proven that children to addicts are genetically predisposed to develop their own addictions.
Lastly, people who are already addicted to something else such as alcohol have an increased risk of getting addicted to other things, including gambling.
Furthermore, gambling addiction is usually divided into two categories, and even though they are slightly different, they are equally as bad and potentially as harmful.
A person that has a compulsive gambling addiction has no power over their urge or desire to play at all. They continue playing even when they know they can’t afford it and they actively hurt themselves, their professional and personal life, as well as the people around them, just to continue playing.
This type of addiction is a constant part of the gambler’s life and is, therefore, more obvious and often easier to spot than the next category.
A binge gambling addict is defined as someone that can’t control their urge to play during certain periods but not all the time. In turn, this means that they can often trick themselves and others into thinking that they have control since they’re not always playing. However, when the desire does kicks in, the binge gambler, just like the compulsive gambler, has no control at all.
In some ways, this type of addiction can be worse since the addiction can go on for longer before it becomes obvious that it is, in fact, a problem.
Signs That You’re Losing Control
With a better idea of what a gambling addiction, we’ll take a look at the signs that someone has lost control over their gambling.
1. Inability to Stop Thinking About Gambling
One of the first signs that someone is getting addicted to gambling is that they can’t stop thinking about it. In other words, it becomes a constant part of the person’s life, even when they’re not gambling.
For example, addicts can often spend all day thinking about other times they’ve gambled or plan their next session.
2. Increased Risk-Taking
Addicts are often forced to take greater and greater risks to satisfy their desire. Similar to a drug addict that has to increase the dose to reach the same high, a gambler has to increase the amount they spend to reach the same level of excitement.
One should never play using money they can’t afford to lose, and gambling should never be a financial priority.
3. Anger Towards Anyone Claiming There Is a Problem
People with a gambling problem tend to get angry and frustrated when others comment on their problem or ask them to stop or cut back. Similarly, they get stressed and anxious when they can’t gamble for some reason.
Not being able to gamble should never be a problem.
4. Chasing Losses to Get Even
One of the golden rules of gambling is to never chase losses because it’s a sure way to lose more and create bad habits. Every gambler has to accept the fact that they will lose at times, and when that happens it’s important to stop and start over.
It is technically impossible to make even or win back losses when gambling and trying to do so, is extremely dangerous.
5. Gambling to Cope with Distress or as a Reward
All sorts of gambling, both on casinos and sports betting, is nothing more than paid entertainment that one does in their spare time. It should never be used as a tool to combat distress, depression or other negative feelings.
Gambling should also not be used as a form of reward for having done something less enjoyable.
6. Lying To Cover Up
What many people don’t understand is that most addicts are fully aware of their issues, even though they won’t admit it to anyone, including themselves. Subsequently, their issues are almost always associated with shame.
Because of that, they soon start lying about how much they play and how much they lose.
Now, these six points are considered the foundation of gambling addiction and the signs are used to diagnose an addiction. That being said, the list isn’t complete and there are many other signs of when a recreational interest in gambling becomes an issue.
How To Stop Gambling and Regain Control
If you think that you might have an issue or feel like you’re developing bad habits you must seek help. The matter of the fact is that most people can’t stop gambling on their own, just like most drug addicts can’t stop taking drugs without help.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule and if you’re able to stop on your own, you should.
Today, most gambling sites let you set up gambling limits and you can even block your access to sites. However, you will most likely need support and help from others and there is nothing wrong with that.
With that said, the first rule of fighting any addiction is to admit that you have an addiction, which is often the hardest part.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most effective and common ways to get help to combat gambling addiction.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a great start and many times it’s the first step people take towards help. GA based on the same concept as Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and can be found all over the world.
You don’t have to register to partake in a GA meeting. Instead, you can just show up and take it from there. And don’t worry, you’re not the first to just show up, and you’re also not the last.
Most experts recommend that you contact your regular doctor as soon as you think there is a problem. The doctor can, in turn, either help you or point you in the right direction.
One of the best reasons to go through a doctor is that your problem becomes official and that you automatically involve people that you don’t have a personal relationship to. That way, it becomes harder to run from the problem later.
For some, GA or therapy isn’t enough and then, medical treatment such as antidepressants and rehab is the only solution.
In most parts of the world, you can sign yourself into rehab but, once again, it’s recommended that you go through your regular doctor.
What To Do If Someone Close to You Gambles Too Much
If you think that a relative, friend or co-worker is suffering from a gambling problem, it’s important that you act. You can do this by letting the said person know how you feel or encourage the person to seek help.
As mentioned, most addicts know that they have a problem and many, although not all, are relieved to get help and recognition.
However, before you act and confront a person with a potential problem, we suggest you educate yourself on the matter so that you’re better prepared. And remember to always be supportive and non-judgmental, otherwise, chances are that you’ll make the situation worse and limit your ability to have an influence.
Naturally, if you think the problem is too big or you don’t know what to do, you too can seek help through GA or a doctor.
The Golden Rules of Gambling Safely and Preventing Problems
There are many “unwritten” rules about how you should play at online casinos and bet money on sports in a healthy way and they’re the best ways to protect yourself from bad habits.
The more you know about the games you play and the risks involved, the bigger your chance of not developing a problem gets. So make sure you’re prepared and have a good understanding.
Never forget that gambling is nothing more than paid entertainment. As soon as it becomes a routine or even a potential source of extra income, you’ve entered the danger zone.
Setting limits for yourself is a great way to control your gambling. Make a budget and make sure you always stick with it and set up time limits regarding how much and often you can play. Many gambling sites and online casinos let you do this through your personal account.
Never, ever play with money you can’t afford to lose and never chase your losses. These two rather simple rules are incredibly efficient as long as you take them seriously.
In the end, all forms of gambling rely on chance and luck and there is nothing you can do to change that. Even if you think that you have a lucky number or a certain online casino that serves you better, you must remember that it’s not the case.
6. Influence & Mood
Since gambling is entertainment associated with risk, you shouldn’t play unless you’re sober and you should not play unless you’re in a good headspace. Playing to combat anxiety or depression is also a recipe for disaster.
There are many options for Indian players to seek help with a gambling addiction, some of the main ones are listed below.
Hope Trust India
Hope Trust India provides drug and gambling rehabilitation in India and can help you get the support and treatments you need. Their site is a great resource for anyone dealing with addiction.
De-Addictions Centres is an organization that operate rehabilitation centres and provide professional support for gambling addicts in India. Visit their site here
Gamblers Anonymous are available on several locations in India and their meetings are open to everyone. You can find their addresses and planned GA meetings here.
You can read more about gambling addiction research funded by the Indian government on this site.