We’ve all heard the saying: “when the fun stops, stop!” But it’s not always as easy as that, is it? This post will look at responsible gambling and where to go for gambling addiction help.
Gambling addiction help
What is a gambling addiction?
Addictions come in many shapes and sizes but ultimately are an uncontrollable urge to do something. A gambling addiction is an uncontrollable impulse to gamble. This can be on anything from sports, and casinos betting to slot machines and lottery tickets, etc.
Having a ‘flutter’ now and again or betting on the weekly football isn’t an addiction. Compulsive gamblers find it hard (or impossible) to control the impulse to gamble. Even when it has negative consequences for them or the people around them.
How to spot a gambling addiction
Spotting a gambling addiction can be difficult. Whether that’s in yourself, or someone else.
If you think you may be a problem gambler, try this questionnaire:
- Do you bet more than you can afford to lose?
- Do you need to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same feeling?
- Have you tried to win back money you have lost (chasing losses)?
- Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?
- Has your gambling caused you any health problems, such as feelings of stress or anxiety?
- Have you wondered whether you have a problem with gambling?
- Have other people criticised your betting or told you that you had a gambling problem (regardless of whether or not you thought it was true)?
- Has your gambling caused any financial problems for you or your household?
- Have you ever felt guilty about the way you gamble or what happens when you gamble?
Score 0 for each time you answer “never”
Score 1 for each time you answer “sometimes”
Add 2 for each time you answer “most of the time”
and score 3 for each time you answer “almost always”
If your total score is 8 or higher, you may be a problem gambler.
How to avoid a gambling addiction
Depending on your personality, avoiding a gambling addiction can be easier said than done. But here are a few tips:
- Know your limits
Never bet more than you can afford to lose. Set aside an amount of money that you’re ‘happy’ to lose (assuming that happens) and don’t go over that.
- Don’t chase losses
This means trying to win back money you’ve already lost by gambling more. Chasing losses usually results in more losses being made. It’s a vicious cycle. With gambling, the law of averages say that you’re bound to hit a losing streak at some point. Even if you’ve been successful up until then. If/when this happens, the trick is to stop. Accept the loss instead of trying to chase it.
If you are worried about having or developing an addiction, you can voluntarily opt out of being able to place bets. This is useful if you don’t think you can fight the impulse to gamble. Ask the gambling operator to exclude you from gambling with them for a set length of time.
What to do if you need gambling addiction help
If you, or someone you know, needs help for a gambling addiction, there’s help out there.
Get free, confidential help by phone or online. Check if you or someone you know may have a gambling problem and find tips on how to stay in control.
Available to residents of England and Wales aged 16+. Visit the website for more info on how to refer yourself to the only specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers.
GamCare runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and provides free face-to-face counselling. Their support focuses on both the prevention and treatment of problem gambling and all services are confidential.
GAMSTOP lets you put controls in place to restrict your online gambling activities. You will be prevented from using gambling websites and apps run by companies licensed in Great Britain, for a period of your choosing.
Using the same 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous, GA also has a support group for relatives called Gam-Anon. There’s help and support available for those affected by someone else’s gambling problem.
An online guide to mental and emotional health. Find out more about how a gambling addiction could affect you and those around you.
Self Help Tips for Problem Gamblers
- pay important bills, such as your mortgage, on payday before you gamble
- spend more time with family and friends who don’t gamble
- deal with your debts rather than ignoring them – visit the National Debtline for tips
- view gambling as a way to make money. Try to see it as entertainment instead.
- bottle up your worries about your gambling. Talk to someone so they understand how you’re feeling.
- take credit cards with you when you go gambling as situations can escalate quickly. Especially if you try to chase your losses.
For more self-help tips, see the Royal College of Psychiatrists website.
Our full guide to matched betting explains more about how matched betting is not gambling.