Gambling is a global pastime, and several regions already have a legal framework for regulating the industry. However, while it can be fun and potentially life-changing if you are lucky to bag a jackpot of hefty payout, gambling can also be dangerous and addictive. Several problem gamblers struggle to control their betting hobby, which leaves them vulnerable to the adverse effects of compulsive and binge gambling. Therefore, it is vital to gamble responsibly and watch out for potential harm. More importantly, players should learn more about gambling harm, how they can take control of their pastimes, and how to reverse the negative side effects of problematic betting. There are several solutions, but each player has unique requirements.
Why is it Important to Gamble Responsibly?
The benefits of responsible gambling are apparent and straightforward. Whether you gamble online or offline, it is vital to determine how much you are willing to shell out on your hobby and when to take a break. Chasing wins, binge gambling and problem gambling can have a significant negative impact on your social life and finances, resulting in stress and the inability to quit. Responsible gambling is all about ensuring control over the betting activity to avoid potential harm. Many regions with a legal gambling scene have various frameworks to promote responsible gambling.
For instance, in Canada, players can voluntarily register on GamStop to take at least six months away from all online gambling products offered by the Canadian casinos. You can also sign up for SENSE (Self Enrollment National Self Exclusion) to stay away from land-based casinos. Gambling operators often provide options for players looking to take temporary or permanent breaks from real money bets. The most popular schemes include cool-off periods, deposit limits, and account closure. Using such frameworks can help players avoid compulsive betting and quit gambling for some time. When you gamble responsibly, you can easily determine the maximum amount and time you spend on betting products to avoid disrupting other aspects of your life.
Warning Signs of Problem Gambling
Problem gambling can be classified as gambling addiction, a mental disorder in which the player cannot control their urge to bet. There are several warning signs, some of which may be difficult to identify without honest self-examination. Common indications of a gambling disorder include:
- Spending more money on gambling than intended
- Spending extended periods gambling and chasing wins or losses
- Heated arguments with friends and family members after gambling
- Urgent need to gamble again after losing a bet
- Feelings of guilt, remorse and indifference about gambling
- Stealing or borrowing money, or selling assets to fund your gambling habit
- Hiding the truth about how much money and time you spend on gambling
- Missing work and other essential commitments to continue gambling
It is crucial to seek professional help as soon as you notice any of the warning signs. Problem gambling will only get worse if not addressed, and you might end up losing more than just money. Many people have lost meaningful relationships with friends, family and even their jobs because of uncontrolled gambling. Fortunately, gambling harm is reversible, and players can find help through self-exclusion schemes, game blockers, and support groups. All you need to regain control is to be honest with yourself and accept you need help. If you find it increasingly challenging to avoid betting or end up spending beyond your limit whenever you go out to gamble, you have a problem that needs addressing sooner rather than later.
Safe Gambling Tips
There are various ways to avoid gambling harm. The first step is to recognize gambling as just a game and hobby instead of a way to make extra money. Although you can win hefty payouts, casino games feature a house edge, meaning the operator has to profit. As a result, you are bound to lose money in the long run unless you take control. Here are three key safe gambling tips:
- Play for Fun – Gambling is a game, so don’t let it play you. Instead, enjoy casino games for leisure and have a fun time. You can set aside money for gambling just like you would decide how much you want to spend on other forms of entertainment. Avoid gambling to escape boredom and stress.
- Gamble When You Can Afford It – You should always gamble on products you love and can afford to bet on. There’s no need to borrow money, sell an asset or steal to fund a gambling habit. Instead, stay in control and think of other people that depend on your support. Most casinos allow you to set deposit limits, so you shouldn’t bet unless you can comfortably afford to do so.
- Set Limits – You shouldn’t be spending the whole day on gambling and forgetting other essential commitments. Instead, set aside time for gambling and never exceed the limits. It is also vital to determine how much you can safely spend on gambling. If you lose your bankroll, walk away and never try to chase losses.
What Might Trigger Irresponsible Gambling?
Compulsive gambling has many causes and risk factors spanning biological, genetic and environmental triggers. However, what drives players to irresponsible gambling isn’t well understood. Some of the risk factors include:
- Mental Health Issues – Most problem gamblers usually have personality disorders, a history of substance abuse, anxiety and depression. Irresponsible gambling is also highly associated with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), bipolar disorder, ADD (attention deficit disorder), and hyperactivity disorder.
- Underage Gambling – Players who start betting during childhood and teenage years have a higher risk of developing a compulsive gambling habit. The problem is more prevalent in young and middle-aged groups. However, irresponsible gambling also affects the adult population.
- Sex/Gender – According to surveys and statistics, compulsive gambling affects more men than women. This is because most men start gambling at an early age compared to women, who often gamble later in life. Nonetheless, betting patterns have become quite similar among men and women.
- Influence from Family and Friends – If you have friends of close family members who gamble irresponsibly, you are more likely to develop a problem. Like drugs, if you are exposed to gambling products and personalities, the chances are high you’ll start betting and develop a problem.
- More Causes – There are several other risk factors, including medications like dopamine agonists, that result in compulsive behaviours in some patients. Certain personality traits like being a workaholic, extremely competitive, restless, impulsive and easily bored can also increase the risk of irresponsible gambling.
Who Can Help?
Compulsive gambling can result in various complications, including relationship problems, legal issues, bankruptcy, poor work performance and health, depression and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, there’s no proven method to prevent irresponsible gambling. However, betting experts have several recommended practices and solutions for players looking to regain control. Education is, of course, essential to enlighten groups that are at risk of developing compulsive gambling. The solution is to avoid all forms of gambling at all costs, but it isn’t always easy, considering compulsive betting is a mental health issue. As such, it is vital to get treatment early by seeking professional help. Below are some of the recommended solutions.
- Self-Exclusion and Game Blockers – You can use internal casino exclusion schemes, such as cool-off periods and deposit limits. Players can also join national self-exclusion like GamStop, RUFUS, and SpelPaus. Game blockers like Gamblock, Betfilter, and NetNanny can also help you avoid all online gambling websites and products.
- Gambling Support Groups – Various portals, forums, and support groups are dedicated to providing helpful resources to those affected by problem gambling. Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) of Canada is an excellent example. Players can also use Gambling Anonymous, Gamban, and other support groups to learn more about avoiding gambling harm.
Gambling in itself is a fun and exciting experience with the potential to earn you extra cash on your lucky day. Some fortunate players have also won millions, which is an enticing proposition. However, the seemingly harmless hobby can become a real problem with various adverse effects without control and responsibility. Problem gambling will disrupt your lifestyle and diminish your potential for success in multiple aspects of your life. As such, it is vital to monitor your gambling patterns and take necessary breaks when necessary. You should also seek help as soon as you notice a problem.