Gambling should be one of the ways you have fun and unwind at your leisure periods. Winning cash and other prizes at a game of chance with a complete understanding of the rewards and risks should be a source of excitement. As many have found out, uncontrolled gambling can be a severe problem. Compulsive gambling disorder is a condition where an individual gambles too much to the point where their gambling activities start to affect other areas of their lives.
Causes of Compulsive Gambling
No one can explain exactly why people become compulsive gamblers. But we know that gambling affects individuals differently and several factors may influence how an individual becomes affected by gambling. Greed and chasing losses are among the reasons people become compulsive gamblers. However, the principal reasons for most compulsive gambling cases include:
People who are dealing with financial challenges are at the highest risk of becoming compulsive gamblers. The thought of quickly earning huge sums to sort out your finances can be irresistibly tempting. Gambling offers the possibility of huge wins within a short period and someone in a corner financially might find the idea of increasing whatever money they have via gambling hard to resist.
However, gambling winnings are based on luck and unless a person is extremely lucky, they will never be able to solve their financial problems with winnings from gambling. A person with money troubles will likely continue gambling to win more without ever winning enough, trapping them in an unending vicious gambling cycle.
Entertainment is one of the ways we take our minds off the stress of work and daily living. It is fun to relax and unwind after a hard day’s job but your form of escape can become a problem if it begins to have negative impacts on your life. People who adopt gambling as a form of escape might find themselves choosing the activity over more important things like relationships, food, work, sleep etc.
Gambling as a form of reality escape is unhealthy and can trigger serious problems in a person’s life if uncontrolled. Compulsive gamblers may lose track of time when gambling and will spend inordinate amounts of time playing the same game again and again.
A great thrill comes from gambling on casino games and waiting for the outcome to go in your favour. The adrenaline rush that gambling offers is highly exciting, but like other reasons for compulsive gambling, this too can become a problem if it begins to influence your life negatively.
The risks involved with gambling are similar to those of other thrill-seeking behaviour, so it is important to mitigate risk by limiting how much you play. To avoid chasing your losses, restrict the amounts you stake on the games.
Problem Gambling Symptoms
Gambling is a fun and hugely entertaining activity for millions of people worldwide. However, unchecked gambling can become problematic and potentially addictive. The following pointers can let you know whether you or someone close to you may be having compulsive gambling problems.
Hiding Their Gambling Activities
People who don’t want to be seen gambling or who find it difficult to explain their gambling habits may be dealing with compulsive gambling. Many people gamble with friends but if you feel uneasy about telling your loved one about your activities, then you may be gambling too much.
Having Multiple New or Unpaid Credit Cards
Credit cards help you manage your money and offer lots of great financial incentives if properly utilized. But they can also bring you to financial ruin if you mismanage them. People who have a problem with compulsive gambling may acquire multiple credit cards to fund their habit. Do not accept credits with larger limits than you can offset in a month, and pay off your balances so you don’t accumulate interest on unpaid sums.
Difficulty Concentrating at Work or School
People dealing with compulsive gambling will find themselves thinking regularly about their next or previous gambling sessions, making it difficult for them to concentrate at work or school. You may be dealing with a gambling problem if you find gambling dominating your thoughts and affecting your productivity.
Believing the Next Gambling Session Will Be Different
Compulsive gamblers tend to believe that they will hit a lucky break on their next gambling session. They look forward to the next session with optimism and think they will be able to end their financial troubles with the flip of a coin. If you find yourself always looking forward to the next sessions, then you may be dealing with compulsive gambling.
Thinking About Breaking the Law to Gamble
If gambling is making you think about stealing or doing something fraudulent for money to gamble, then you may be suffering from compulsive gambling and need to seek help quickly.
Abandoning Their Hobbies
Our hobbies are great sources of fun, excitement, and relaxation. If gambling begins to eat up the time you normally use for your hobbies, then you may have a gambling problem.
Inability to Spend a Day without Gambling
A lot of gamblers indulge daily and will not gamble if they have a reason not to. But if the thought of not gambling for a day makes you unhappy or uneasy, then you may be a compulsive gambler. Healthy gambling means you are in control and can choose when or when not to gamble.
Getting into Frequent Arguments About Money
Many people experience financial troubles and get into money arguments with their spouse, relatives, or friends. If you find yourself in constant arguments about money and trying to solve the problem by gambling, then you may be dealing with compulsive gambling.
How to Protect Yourself from Gambling Addictions
Compulsive gambling is a risk for many people and you may not know how likely you are to become a compulsive gambler till it happens. It is best to avoid gambling if you think you may be at risk of developing a gambling disorder. Thrill-seekers, reality escapists and those who have problems managing their finances are at most risk of becoming addicted to gambling.
You can protect yourself from falling into compulsive gambling by taking the following steps:
Set a Limit on Your Gambling Account
Online casino accounts usually come with a feature that lets you place a limit on how much you can gamble. You can set a monthly limit to help you keep track of your stakes so you don’t exceed your set gambling budget. A gambling limit allows you to enjoy gambling without worrying about getting into financial troubles.
Self-exclusion is a feature that allows you to restrict yourself from accessing your gambling account for a fixed amount of time. Casinos allow players to exclude themselves for between a week to a year. Use self-exclusion to give yourself a break if you think your gambling habit is becoming problematic.
Use the Reality Check Option
Reality check is another feature that allows gamblers to stay in control of their gambling. This feature enables you to decide how long you want to gamble. A pop-up notification appears on your screen letting you know when your set time expires.
Use Gambling Help Resources
Responsible gambling sites contain tons of resources that educate people on gambling problems and how to prevent or handle them if they arise.
The following are some responsible gambling help resources that you can use:
Gamblers Anonymous is an international fellowship of people who have a compulsive gambling problem. They meet regularly to share their “experiences, strength, and hope”, so they can help others solve the problems compulsive gambling has created in their lives, and to help others recover from the addiction of compulsive gambling.
GamCare is the leading UK provider of free information, advice and support for anyone harmed by gambling. You can speak with a GamCare Adviser for free on 0808 8020 133, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
BeGamble Aware provides information to help people make informed decisions about their gambling. They help people find out more about gambling and what safer gambling means, to understand and recognize the risks of gambling, and show people where to go for further information, help and support should they need it.
National Problem Gambling Clinic
The National Problem Gambling Clinic is a London-based gambling addiction treatment centre that treats problem gamblers in Wales and England aged 16 and over. It works alongside other gambling help providers to deliver the most appropriate package of care for individuals experiencing difficulties with gambling.