Gambling Addiction: Your Guide to Getting Help

Read about what problem gambling is and how to get help

What is Problem Gambling?

Gambling is an activity enjoyed by millions of people around the world in 2019. It is a fun and profitable hobby that players benefit from on a daily basis. Unfortunately, gambling can also be highly addictive and some individuals may end up unable to control their habits.

When you are no longer in control of your bankroll and are betting more than you can afford to lose, you may need to think about addressing your problem. The best thing to do is understand more about problem gambling in the first place, so you can prevent it before you reach this stage. That's where this guide comes in handy. We'll cover everything from spotting signs of addiction to getting help.

What is Problem Gambling?

Most online slots players enjoy gambling in a safe environment at home. They gamble with money they can afford to lose and keep track of their wins and losses. They also know when to stop.

Gambling should be a hobby that can be enjoyed in your spare time. But if gambling becomes something that consumes your life and bankroll, it could develop into something more serious. Gambling addiction is a mental health disorder. Problem gamblers may lie to family and friends about their level of gambling, become obsessed with playing all the time, miss work and, in serious cases, it can lead to debt, theft, and bigger financial problems.

Casinos work hard to prevent players from becoming addicted. Operators offer things like self-exclusion, deposit and session limits, and trained staff are available to help players who may develop an addiction. But, ultimately, it's down to the player to be aware of the signs. So, keep reading and make sure you're clued up.

Quiz: Are You a Compulsive Gambler?

Recognizing you have a problem is the first step to getting help. If you find yourself answering 'yes' to some of these questions, you may want to seek assistance:

  • Has playing online slots stopped being fun?
  • Do you gamble online more than 5-10 times a week, often for hours at a time?
  • Do you find yourself chasing losses, even though you know it's time to take a break?
  • Do you gamble out of boredom rather than enjoyment?
  • Are you anxious or stressed by your gambling?
  • Have you abused alcohol or drugs in attempt to deal with your addiction?
  • Do you feel isolated from others?
  • Do you re-invest winnings into other slots rather than withdraw them straight away?
  • Have you ever lied to close family or friends about your gambling?
  • Have you ever phoned in sick to work because you were gambling all night?
  • Have you ever borrowed or stolen money from friends or family to fund your gambling?

Are All Gamblers Problem Gamblers?

The majority of slots gamblers are recreational players. They know how much they are betting with, and know to when to cash out after enjoying big wins.

Only a small fraction of gamblers, around 2-3%, are recorded as being compulsive addicts. But with more players taking advantage of online and mobile casinos for the first time, the risk is always there.

Without keeping an eye on gambling, problems can surface, especially if you have an inherent compulsive nature. By taking preventative measures before you play, you're less likely to run into any issues later on.

Taking Steps to Prevent an Addiction

Even if you don't think you have an addiction to gambling, it's always a good idea to take preventative steps.

Take regular breaks from your online sessions, and set deposit limits on your account before you get started. Many casinos will give you a cooling off period if you want to enforce a break. Setting a strict budget for your sessions is good for bankroll management as well as handling any problems. We've got a full guide on what bankroll management is and how it will benefit you, and you can check it out here.

Only bet with money you can afford. Using expensive credit cards where you are "borrowing" money to play can be bad for problem gamblers. Remember to never chase losses or gamble if you are feeling low, as gambling online should be a fun, recreational pastime. If it becomes anything more serious, it's time to get help.

Getting Help with Your Gambling Addiction

Casinos won't always close your account if you lose too much. Most of the time a self-exclusion is needed to curb your addiction. The main thing to remember is that if you find your problem is getting out of hand, you can get help.

As a first point of call, tell friends and family about your issues. Sharing your problems with loved ones can help you deal with them better. They may help you source gambling charities, therapists, or work out a financial plan for your debts.

As well as self-exclusion, you can download special software that effectively blocks any gambling clients on your machine. Take a look at Gamblock, (www.gamblock.com) which was designed specifically with online problem gamblers in mind.

Alternatively, there are plenty of reputable charities and helplines that have years of experience helping addicts. You'll find a list further down this page.

Problem Gambling Severity Index

Not all gamblers develop an addiction, and most never will. However, for a tiny proportion, gambling can become a serious problem. It may not last forever and may not even result in huge debt, however, it can lead to family difficulties, work issues and generally affect your mental wellbeing.

The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) features 9 criteria that make up a gambling disorder:

  1. A need to gamble, with ever-increasing amounts of money.
  2. Restlessness or irritability when stopping gambling.
  3. Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to control gambling sessions.
  4. Preoccupation with gambling and persistent thoughts.
  5. Gambling when stressed, anxious, or depressed.
  6. Chasing losses, the day after a day of losing cash.
  7. Lying to loved ones and friends about involvement in gambling.
  8. Jeopardized a relationship or job opportunity due to gambling.
  9. Borrows money from close ones to cover financial losses.

UK charity Gambling Therapy lists six stages of addiction that can develop:

  1. Pre-contemplative: Problem not identified and no change is made.
  2. Contemplative: Gambler considers that some change may need to be made.
  3. Determination: Change is required and plans are made to limit gambling
  4. Action: Plans are followed through with.
  5. Maintenance: Barriers are placed to stop problems developing further.
  6. Relapse: Addiction becomes more serious even once plans have been put into place.

How Casinos Help Players

Responsible gambling is taken seriously by online casinos. And if they are properly regulated, the casinos have to abide by set rules from the licensing body.

Financial Limits: Licensed casino sites can, and should, offer all customers the chance to set both deposit limits and limits on how much players are willing to lose in a session. Time limits on gaming sessions can also be set.

Self-Exclusion: Players have the option to self-exclude from online gambling. Casinos can offer a week's, month's, or year's "break" and the account will be frozen. Players won't be able to log back in during this time. Less reputable casinos may make it difficult for players to take proper breaks. It's vital you sign up with safe casinos that protect their players, like the ones we recommend here at SlotMachines.com

How Gambling Addiction Affects Families

Problem gambling doesn't just affect the gambler. It can also damage family relationships, especially if money is involved and the gambler lies about their financial situation or gets into debt without the family knowing. Depression and anxiety can also lead to a strain on family relationships.

The effects of problem gambling can range from occasional worries and making excuses, to spending less time with family and an increase in arguments. A feeling of isolation can then take hold, followed by physical and mental problems and panic attacks. This puts strain on all relationships, which is why it's important to get help as soon as you realize you need it.

Gambling Addiction Resources

Luckily, problem gambling doesn't have to be handled alone. There are lots of great charities and organizations across the world that can help.

Gamblers Therapy (worldwide)

(www.gamblingtherapy.org)

This organization provides a free online service where gamblers can get advice on gambling addiction. The forums are packed with helpful advice from former and current addicts. Group sessions take place online via chat windows.

Gamblers Anonymous (worldwide)

(www.gamblersanonymous.org)

One of the world's largest addiction charities, Gamblers Anonymous helps addicts across the world through therapy sessions and special 12-step programs.

Problem Gambling Help Line (Canada)

(www.gamesense.com)

Tel: 1.888.795.6111

This British Columbia-based organization provides free resources and advice on addiction. The free phone line runs 24/7 for local players.

GamCare (UK)

(www.gamcare.org.uk)

GamCare is one of the largest gambling addiction charities in the UK. It offers a phone helpline, online NetLine, and forum assistance for problem gamblers and their families. Chatrooms are moderated by GamCare staff who can be on hand to answer any questions.

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