Gambling is a type of entertainment that you pay for. In return for this payment you are given the opportunity to win sums of money that are bigger than what you put in. However, every gambler should know that the odds are stacked against you. There is a higher probability that you will lose more money than you win.
When you do win, the feeling generated can be a sense of euphoria not typically experienced in every day life. It’s a reward of sorts – a hit of dopamine is released into your brain, presenting a psychological achievement. The further pursuit of this ‘reward’ through gambling money time and time again can ultimately lead to addiction.
The term responsible gambling is way to describe the ability of an individual to gamble without putting themselves or others in any form of harm. Types of harm can be psychological, physical and typically financial. Responsible gambling is about a better understanding of the games you are participating in. The odds of winning, the rules of that particular game and the chances of losing the money you have chosen to gamble.
Gamcare, a leading Gambling Charity in the UK, outlined 5 simple measures gamblers should consider when participating in games of chance for money. They are as follows:
1. Only spend what you can afford
2. Set your limits for time and money
3. Gambling is not the answer to any problem
4. Gambling when angry or upset is not a good idea
5. Gambling shouldn’t interfere with your personal relationships
Although these measures seem obvious and simplistic, if followed they would help prevent many of the problem gambling issues experienced everyday. Sadly, not many people that develop problems with gambling can not stick to all of these measures. It’s important to recognise as quickly as possible if you do have problems with gambling as the consequences of not seeing the signs can be devastating.
Signs to look out for
According to the Addiction Blog, an American Addiction Centers Resource, there are often signs that gambling on video slots has gone past entertainment and is entering into a problematic place. Addiction Blog have identified 10 signs to look out for, as documented in this article on their website. Here are the 10 signs to look out for:
1. Belief that you are not gambling with “real money”.
2. Belief that you will win back money that you lost on a slot machine.
3. Developing a personal relationship or bond with a particular slot machine.*
4. Feeling irritation when you see someone else playing on “your” slot machine.*
5. Playing a slot machine longer than planned.
6. Spending more money on a slot machine than you can afford.
7. Lying about how much you win or lose on a slot machine.
8. Thinking about playing the slots when you are away from a casino.*
9. Problems at work, home or in a social setting due to playing the slots.
10. If you think you may have a gambling problem, you probably do.
*More specific to slot machines in a land-based casino, but essentially the principles are the same as playing online or through a mobile device.
Do I have a problem?
Quite often gambling addiction can continue for much longer in some people than others due to a failure to recognise the tell tail ‘signs’ of problem gambling. It can be easy to convince yourself you have your gambling under control. You just need to get a few breaks and you can claw back some of your losses.
Gaining access to money, whether it be borrowed from friends, family, credit lenders, becomes the primary focus. Less and less concern is given to the rates of interest being charged, the mortgage payments being missed. It is all about having accessible funds to gamble. When the loans run out and the family and friends say ‘No’, then things can get really bad for the gambler.
There are countless articles on news websites of gamblers who have stolen from family, friends, employers and sometimes charities to continue their gambling habit. Most of these people, who are the subjects of these articles, have never committed a crime or had any dealings with the police in the past. Their gambling addiction has taken control of certain aspects of their decision making and cognitive brain processing, leading them to do things they would never have dreamed of doing. Which has led to break down in marriages, destruction of relationships, loss of employment and, in some cases, criminal prosecution. For those even less fortunate their addiction to gambling has led to early death due to suicide.
What to do?
For help with problem gambling reach out to organisations that can professional care: