In our world today, many people participate in gambling without having a conceptual understanding of how gambling works. Before you indulge in gambling, it is of great importance to know how gambling works in order not to be taken unawares by surprising outcomes. Now, what exactly is gambling?
Gambling refers to the act of participating in the game during which you take a risk by staking your money or anything with monetary value so as to win a prize or money in return. This is actually a game of chance because the outcome may be positive or negative at times. Gambling comes in many forms such as blackjack, poker, casino, etc. Many people enjoy gambling, though it can be risky, therefore you need to be well-informed and ensure you don’t get addicted to it.
Some people say gambling is fun and very exciting, While for others, it has shifted from being fun to a critical situation of addiction. However, gambling becomes an addiction when you are unable to control the desire of playing it and when your financial, educational, family, occupational functions are being negatively affected. Addiction to gambling has more to it than just its problems, but in this write-up, shall unravel, the causes, signs, stages, tips on how to avoid gambling, preventive measures, underage gambling restrictions and also where to find help and counseling.
MAIN REASONS OF GAMBLING ADDICTION
Numerous factors contribute to the problem of gambling addiction. Gamblers have a lot of desperate desire for money, they long for thrills and highs including influential social status. For this reason, they get addicted to the act and breaking out from the cling of gambling becomes a herculean task.
However, gambling addiction can be so severe especially when the gambler must have exhausted and lost all the money and becomes desperate to make up for the loss. The irony of the whole thing is that most time, no matter how much you make, it may not make up for the lost. Therefore it’s never easy to breakeven and most gamblers are not close to it.
Nevertheless, there are many reasons people get addicted to gambling as mentioned above, but we shall look at the biological reason, availability of gambling opportunities and also personal cause.
- Biological Reason: Every living being has special physiology and genetics that controls human intents and behavior. This is why people differ in the degree to which they see gambling as enjoyable fun. This could be very luring to the extent that it may become very difficult to resist the flaming temptation to gamble. Eventually, if such an urge is not controlled, there is a tendency of participating in gambling and which could result in serious addiction.
- Availability of Gambling opportunities: The attraction of simple winning and imagination of becoming rich in a twinkling of an eye, makes gambling very tempting. In our generation today, online gambling has stolen the attention and life of many and has emerged as a new platform for addiction. Access to the internet makes it a more dreadful situation, as the gambler can stay at the comfort of his couch to try luck online. In addition, many websites are good at providing such opportunities. Therefore gamblers have 24/7 access to these sites and platforms. Offline gambling, like the casino, leads a lot of people into addiction due to the highs linked to gambling including the risk involved and loss of money. Casino addiction can be compared with drug addiction and alcohol, it is such a horrible situation for the addicts. Most offline gamblers see it as an immediate financial solution so they get hooked up to maximum spending and expect to hit a jackpot. In addition, offline gambling offers more physical closeness to prizes and winnings up for grabs than online gambling.
- Personality Factors: The entire experience of gambling is just completely personal, therefore reasons for gambling differs among various individuals. However, gambling addiction has to do with a person’s psyche. That’s why you see people repeating this activity of gambling over and over again, without minding the destructive consequences. Gambling is seen from various perspectives by people and so they get involved and gradually become addicted to it. Some see it at an avenue to reduce stress, cope with negative situations, free from boredom, etc. hence they become vulnerable to addiction.
THE COMMON SIGNS OF GAMBLING ADDICTION
Gambling addiction is accompanied by many signs but the most common sign is that forceful and inevitable urge to gamble. However, here are the common signs or symptoms of gambling addiction:
- Neglecting other aspects of life: This is one of the signs that addiction, whereby the gambler’s relationship with families and friends becomes sore and he/she begins to mingle with new friends around the gambling environs. Furthermore, work and home become irrelevant to them, other obligations and responsibilities to lag Now, the addict becomes irresponsible, selfish and always quick to forget things easily. All thoughts are focused on gambling activities and outcomes.
- Keeping this activity in a secret: Hiding your gambling activities from your family and friends shows that you are engrossed in gambling. Especially when the addicts that they ( family & friends) will not approve of it, he/she will always gamble in secret. Therefore, hiding this gambling behavior from relatives is one of the common signs of gambling addiction.
- Making money this way: Most times you find yourself, doing things you intend to do such as borrowing, stealing money to gamble. The anchor thought of every gambling addict centers on the ‘big win’ which never comes but times seems nearly close. The feeling of having a big win would easily fuel the desire to gamble more, thereby leaving them trapped in such addition they can hardly find a way out. However, this gambling attitude is driven by the need to win money, including to win back already lost.
- Borrow money for gambling: Gambling puts the addicts into a financial hole such that begin to develop borrowing habits. They go ahead to borrow money from families, friends and even strangers without specifying genuinely what they want the money for. They even mortgage their belongings just get money to gamble.
- Gambling is almost the only joy: Most gamblers are victims of addiction as a result of depression, anxiety, and boredom. The thrill of gambling becomes very high as being intoxicated. In order to keep joy and excitement alive, they can stay off the hand brake of gambling all day. It doesn’t matter to them if they win or not, what matters most to them is to pursue that excitement. This particular sign is often mistaken for other problems by addicts and others, due to the intent behind the gambling activity,i.e gambling to cover up personal challenges, gain happiness or even boost emotions is a sure sign of a dreadful situation.
- All thoughts about gambling: One of the notable symptoms of gambling addiction is the obsession that accompanies it. This obsession makes them totally engrossed in gambling such that they don’t think of nor care about anything else. Thoughts about gambling preoccupy the addict to a point that other problems may follow suit.
STAGES OF GAMBLING ADDICTION
Gambling addiction is not something that transpires overnight. Addiction manifests in gradual stages, gamblers from recreation to problem to addicts. However, we shall be looking at their behavior in these unique phases, as follows:
- The Phase of becoming addicted: This phase starts with the winning characterized by a big win that gives birth to a lot of excitement and portrays a positive view about the act of gambling. Now, they believe winning will continue and so they begin to spend a huger amount of time and money on gambling. The rate at which the gambler participates in gambling increases as time goes on, the person begins to attach it as part of life endeavor. A winning streak or a big win will stop at nothing than to further justify an increase in gambling attitude. At a point in time, they begin to think that they possess a unique talent or ability as a “pro” gambler. It is seen as a positive experience at this phase and gradually it eats up the fabrics of the gambler’s whole being.
- Losing Phase: At this phase, the gambler becomes more preoccupied with gambling activities. Their behavior will tell more, as they begin to gamble alone, tell lies to family/friends, borrow money, and so on. They begin to pursue their losses at this phase to win back the losses as soon as possible. More free time is spent on the gambling terrain while attention to family and work begins to suffer negligence. As the anxiety and depression set in, (due to their financial condition) they may try to quit but to no avail.
- The phase of despair: At this phase of hopelessness, gamblers jam “the bottom of the rock”. It entirely out of gear because they don’t see help coming from anyone nor anywhere. Life or death means absolutely nothing to them. In this pain of several losses, many gamblers may decide to use drugs or alcohol to reduce such emotional pain, while some may think an attempt on suicide. As financial pressure mounts, the gambler may decide to start disposing belongings or may even start looking out for where to steal money just to gamble. There is also the tendency of loss of sleep, weight and other health issues may creep in. In fact, this stage is a very dreadful stage and needs a lot of psychological support.
TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID GAMBLING ADDICTION
It is better not to indulge in gambling from the onset because it can stimulate the reward system in the brain, which can make it very difficult to stop. However, gambling addiction can be avoided through the following tips:
- Before engaging in any gambling activity for instance casino, make a decision on how much you will spend. In order not to exceed the stated amount, do not make extra money along with you and ensure you leave your credit cards at home.
- Gambling addiction can also be avoided by keeping count of your losses, there is no guarantee for winning because the bookies will always win more than the gamblers.
- It is very advisable to stop playing if you win.
- Bear in mind that the more you gamble, the more tendency of loosing.
- Don’t borrow money to keep gambling and don’t chase losses.
- Keep off from gambling environs and machines.
- Also, close and block gambling websites.
- This may be funny but it will work. Make a list of why gambling isn’t good for you, then always take a looks at it whenever you have the urge to engage in gambling activities.
- Just seek help or support if you find it difficult to quit gambling.
- Understanding the risk of gambling and also considering the consequences before deciding to gamble.
- Be honest about your gambling behavior.
- Keep no secrets about your finances and how much you spend on gambling.
- Whenever you funds set aside for bills, please pay them immediately without procrastinating.
- Compilation of losses or what you have spent on gambling and comparing it with you ought to have bought with it or debts you are supposed to pay with it.
- Also, endeavour to admit to yourself and others that you have gambled.
There is this popular saying that “prevention is better than cure”. There are a lot of preventive measures to this effect, as listed:
- Sign up in the GameStop: This is a service provided for users free of charge. All you need do is sign up and your self-exclusion will be effective in 24 hours. After this, you will be blocked from gambling with online gambling companies. This exclusion can last up to a certain duration(6months, 1year or 3year) depending on the option chosen. Gamstop puts the gambler in control when operating gambling sites. The gambler can easily put a block or limit to help restrict gambling activities. This is indeed a perfect tool for gamblers who feel the end has come for ” fun” and needs help.
- Set a timeout inside the casino: when you are gambling, time seems to run at different pace irrespective of your winning or losing streak. This preventive measure is to ensure the time limit for gambling is set so as to have time for other crucial activities. The time out enables the gambler to take a little break from gambling activities. This measure allows the user to deactivate or block the account for a given period of time.
Whether you’re winning or losing, time seems to run at a different pace when you’re gambling. Make sure that you set a time limit for your gambling, thereby making time for other exciting or important activities.
- Set deposit limits: Setting a deposit limit helps you not to spend more than you already planned to spend. The deposit limit could be for a day, a week or even 1 month. The amount of money you are able to deposit into your account before gambling is restricted.
- Set limits on losing: Loss can be incurred at any time unplanned but what matters most is how much you have lost so far. Therefore it is important to set a “loss limit” especially on the casino, so as to prevent you from losing what you didn’t plan to lose.
- Unsubscribe from the mailing list by mail: Receiving marketing emails on gambling products/activities should only be by your consent. Otherwise, if you are receiving unwanted emails in this regard, you can make moves to stop them. In order to do this, you may just hit the “unsubscribe” link on your email. Alternatively, you could still contact the gamble operators based on this matter and request that the marketing emails should be stopped.
- Write to support and ask for your account to be locked: You may also seek the support of the gambling operators by writing them and mandating them to restrict your access to your account for a period of 6 months at minimum or more, should you feel the need to take a break from gambling activities.
- Self-exclusion: Taking a break is ideal for any gambler who intends not to be addicted to gambling. Most operators make an available self-exclusive facility to gamblers which limits their access to their account for a minimum period of 6months with an option to be opened in at least 6 months’ time. Besides, there is no maximum period for this facility, it can last permanently.
GAMBLING SITES’ RESPONSIBILITY
The activities of gambling are assumed to be fun and to reduce boredom just for a small price. The moment it goes beyond fun into something dreadful, you may just own up that you are gradually developing a gambling addiction. Therefore, online operators that offer gambling platforms and services are required to acknowledge the need for responsible gambling and not just focus on making money for themselves alone.
However, many gambling sites offer many facilities to help their customers gamble responsibly. Such facilities are:
- All players must be able to stop gambling when they feel it becomes dangerous: The protection of vulnerable gamblers is one of the most essential aspects of responsible gambling that gambling sites should be responsible for. If care is not taken, some gamblers may become so engrossed in playing casino and other gambling activities such that they could become addicted to it. This could drain them financially and also tamper with their normal lives.
- Players must set max. time and money bet limits: The operators or sites has the responsibility to provide and implement tools that will help gamblers to gamble responsibly such as; set play limit, deposit limit, bet limit, and loss limit.
- Play limit: Gambling sites are meant to provide the gambler with this tool, to set a limit on the maximum amount of money or time to play with or play for at any given period.
- Deposit limit: Gamblers should also make use of the deposit limit facility provided by the gambling sites, to set a limit to the maximum amount of money that can be deposited into their gambling account at any given period.
- Bet limit: Provisions are also meant to be made by gambling sites on this aspect where the gambler can easily set a limit on the maximum amount of money to bet on a single game or concurrently.
- Loss limit: They can also help the customer to manage the loss. The gambler is meant to set a loss limit on the amount of money to be lost in one game session.
- A self-test for game addiction must be available: Gambling online can become a serious challenge, at times it could be worse than conventional gambling. Therefore online gambling platforms should make provisions for self-test facilities to assess gamblers’ attitudes to gambling.
The site should ask the gambler if he/she:
- is engrossed with the thoughts of gambling?
- do tell lies to family and friends in order to hide the attitude of gambling?
- needs to gamble with an increased amount of money for the sake of getting desired joy?
- experiences restlessness or feel irritated in the process of cutting down gambling habits?
- has made unsuccessful efforts repeatedly to control gambling behavior?
- uses gambling as an escape route from anxiety, helplessness, and depression?
- has indulged in any criminal activity like stealing, just to gamble or even become indebted as a result of borrowing to gamble?
- has endangered or lost hold of friends/family, including job, education, etc as a result of gambling?
Assuming you answer “yes” one of these questions or more, it is a clear indication that you have entirely lost control.
UNDERAGE GAMBLING AND HOW TO PROTECT CHILDREN
Gambling addiction is now a severe challenge in our society especially in this era of increased growth globalization and internet technology. It has really cut across both adults and children, leaving a lot of people in dreadful and pitiable situations. The normal rule is that you must be 18+ before you become eligible to gamble but online gambling may not help matters, because children can input any eligible date of birth as their age to gain access to the game. It is very important for young persons to be protected from this scourge of gambling. Parents should take proactive actions especially these days of massive recruitment into the gambling terrain, to prevent our younger ones from being hooked. Here are the protective measures you can apply to prevent your children from being gambling addicts:
- Websites Restrictions: Put up an “out of bound” list of sites that your kids must not visit and monitor the kind of games your children are allowed to play on the Internet.
- Educate your kids: Teach your children and make them understand that it’s very illegal and punishable for minors to gamble.
- Monitor your household finances: Always check your finances and ensure your kids aren’t tempted to go out your credit to gamble and ensure to mount serious punishment on any culprit at home.
- Screen children’s games: Some games may have some gambling content in it, ensure you check the games they participate and make sure they desist from such games.
WHERE TO GET HELP WITH GAMBLING ADDICTION
A lot of people have gone into huge debts that have suggested a suicide attempt to result in gambling addiction. However, if you or someone you know has gambling challenges, there are some places to seek help from, which includes:
- Be Gamble Aware: focuses on promoting responsible gambling. Be Gamble Aware offers information that will assist people in making an informed decision in their gambling activities. They will open up what gambling is about, including its problems and also provide you help and support anytime you need it.
- GamCare: provides of free information, advice, and support for persons affected by a gambling problem. It offers gambling addiction treatment options in both long term and short term as the case may be. They make the treatment flexible, confidential and free, either face-to-face or online depending on how you want it. It also provides an avenue to meet others with the same situation, during one-on-one courses, to help you move positively forward.
- Gamblers Anonymous: makes room for face-to-face, online and telephone help and treatment for people with gambling challenges. They provide gambling recovery courses and treatment modules that could be accessed anytime anywhere of your convenience. In fact, the service is just for your needs and recovery goals. It refers to a fellowship of people, both male and female, who have joined together to do something about their own gambling challenges and to help other obsessive gamblers follow suit.
You can find out more from these useful sites below.
- https://www.helpguide.org/: HelpGuide provides and empowers gamblers with evidence-based information that you can use to assist yourself and your loved ones with gambling addiction issues.
- https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/making-a-change/self-exclusion: provides you with a concrete facility to help keep you safe from excessive gambling or abstain entirely.
- https://www.gamblingtherapy.org/en: offers free practical advice and emotional support to persons affected by problem gambling.
- https://rehabs.in/news/gambling-india/: this is an online center that focuses on helping people from all over India find relief and treatment for their gambling addictions.
- https://hopetrustindia.com/blog/gambling-addiction/: provides rehab in India and help for all addictions including gambling.
- https://alphahealingcenter.in/gambling-addiction/: is India’s state-of-the-art rehabilitation center. It offers advanced evidence-based treatments and holistic healing to create a unique recovery experience for individuals struggling with gambling or any other addictions.
ORGANIZATIONS THAT WILL HELP YOU WITH DEBT
Indebtedness is one of the problems that accompany gambling addiction. People borrow to gamble and get frustrated over time as they go deeper into gambling. If you are in this category of individuals, here are organizations that can advise and support you in such situations:
- https://www.debtadvicefoundation.org/: providing you with free, confidential support and advice to your worries about loans, credit, and debt.
- https://www.debtsupporttrust.org.uk/: providing debt advice and assistance for individuals struggling to manage their debts.
- https://www.nationaldebtline.org/: provides you answers to questions that may come up when dealing with your debts.
- https://www.stepchange.org/: offers the most comprehensive debt advice service. You will get help with debt problems, take back control of your finances and your life.