Gambling is a form of entertainment if you do it occasionally. But that’s not the same as problematic or pathological gambling, which doesn’t only harm the individual financially, but also has adverse consequences on their entire lives and deeply affects the people around them. Those who gamble daily and are always planning their next game aren’t gambling for fun.
Problem gamblers believe they can predict the outcome of the game and control the odds. Problem gambling can be a serious challenge to deal with once it develops, so if your family has a history of addiction, it might be best to never even place your first bet. We’ve created a 10-step gambling guide to help you understand the concept of safe gambling and minimize the risk of this becoming a compulsive habit.
Can You Make Money Gambling?
Many people resort to gambling in the hope of making money or even getting rich. They believe that one win will solve all their problems – an attitude typically associated with problematic gambling. But dreams about big wins can lead to gambling addiction. People struggling with a gambling problem spend more than they can afford to lose. In these instances, gambling is no longer about fun. Problem gamblers are constantly looking for time and money to bet, preoccupied with the next “big” game.
Whether you consider gambling as a leisure activity or a way to make money, make sure you remain vigilant. Don’t be misled by stories about big wins and get-rich-quick schemes at casinos or online gambling sites. Most importantly, you should avoid relying on gambling as a rescue package for your financial woes.
It doesn’t matter what game you think you’re good at – the house always wins in the long term. This is because all casino games have a built-in edge (the house edge), which considerably reduces your chances of winning and reduces potential payouts. True, you may get lucky and beat the unfavorable odds, but there is no way you can be lucky forever.
These built-in advantages ensure that in every casino game, the casino always wins in the end. Basically, the longer you play, the more you’re likely to lose, because the chances of the result of your play matching up with the house edge increase. The house edge isn’t the same with all casino games and varies from the lowest (in blackjack) to the highest (in keno).
As such, the best thing to do would be to gamble without expecting to win money, as the odds of you becoming a compulsive gambler and losing are much higher than getting rich.
What Does Your Entertainment Cost You?
Of all the addictive disorders, gambling is widely considered the least harmful. A lottery ticket now and then or a game of poker are usually perceived as entertaining ways to kill time. Many see sports bets as nothing more than a way to inject a dose of fun into Monday night football. However, the truth is that gambling can be very dangerous and doesn’t differ that much from other addictions in its psychology. It starts the same way and can have devastating effects on all aspects of your life.
If you gamble for the love of the game, you are probably safe from adversities associated with gambling for money. Even if you play for fun, there is always some money involved, and the possibility of winning may add to the thrill. A gambling addict, unlike someone who plays for entertainment, is driven solely by the prospects of winning large wads of cash, which is why you probably shouldn’t gamble if this is your main motivation.
Even though gambling addicts don’t display obvious physical signs and symptoms, this form of addiction is no different than those associated with drugs and alcohol. It has ruined countless families and individuals.
Money Is Not All You Can Lose
Most equate pathological gambling to financial problems. But it’s important to note that there are many other consequences, too. A gambling disorder exposes people to extreme pressures, which become more intense over time, damaging their physical and mental health.
Pressure, stress, and anxiety are constant companions of pathological gamblers that negatively affect their psychophysical wellbeing. In addition, pathological gamblers often find themselves in risky situations in order to experience excitement, so their organism is constantly exposed to the threat of hypertension, chronic fatigue, ulcers, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and so on.
In addition, compulsive gambling often forces people to borrow money or cut back on their expenses (including for housing and food) in order to secure more money to gamble. For safe gambling, you need to set a budget and only play with money you can afford to lose. People addicted to gambling tend to sacrifice not only their own health and wellbeing, but also their family and professional life.
If you detect these signs of gambling disorder in your behavior, you may have already developed a compulsive gambling habit and should consider some form of help for gambling addictions.
Get Over Your Losses
For many problematic gamblers, this habit starts jeopardizing their sanity. Many of them actually want to quit after losing, but cannot stop obsessing about their losses and ways of winning it back. Chasing losses is undoubtedly the way to lose everything you have and a pathway to pathological gambling.
The turning point for all gamblers is when they start feeling devastated by the losses, which often results in panic, anxiety, or depression. For those addicted to gambling, games become a means to an end, and they become desensitized to their losses. Some of them decide to buck up and chase their losses, which is commonly followed by despair and even suicidal thoughts.
Losing money is never good, and people naturally want to win it back. That’s why our gambling guide advises people to treat this as a recreational activity and not to expect big payouts from their bets. This attitude will help you avoid some of the pitfalls associated with gambling. Most importantly, you need to set a gambling budget and quit playing before you exceed it.
Gamble With Your Money
Compulsive gamblers quickly resort to borrowing money in a bid to win back what they lost. They then start looking for other games to feed their addiction.
Most start with sports betting before branching out to other types of gambling like slot machines or roulette. Even when losing money on slot machines, they keep playing in the hope of beating the machine. Many blame their roulette losses on a bad day or unlucky numbers. The losses quickly increase along with the sum of money being invested, and not even the most reliable casinos or the best gaming sites can make things better.
Gamblers then start lying to everyone about the money they’ve spent and need. When they can’t get money from their family, they start borrowing from friends and acquaintances. Instead of seeking gambling help, they look for more money. Some gamblers even turn to loan sharks, which is a sure road to ruin for many families.
A key prerequisite to gambling is to game with money you have. Borrowing money to gamble almost always leads to intolerable debt. It may also get you involved with some dangerous people and endanger your health.
Know Your Limits
If you spend a lot of time and money on various types of gambling, the best thing to do is to set limits that should extend to your deposits and the amount of time spent betting. Moreover, you can find a variety of tips online which will help you understand how to set limits at different casinos. All you have to do is activate the relevant features.
These limits will help you get control over your losses. But the world is full of gamblers, and tips for one might not work for another. The most important thing is to keep an eye on the money you spend.
Many online casinos have reality checks and provide information about the money you win or lose during a session. But it falls short of giving you an overall estimate of your spending, which is why you need to track it yourself. You need to be honest with yourself because no gambling website or casino guide can do this for you.
Kick Yourself Out!
It may be quite challenging and often impossible to dig into the exact causes of gambling addiction or try to figure out your gambling addiction symptoms on your own. But if you feel you’re losing track of your spending despite the above limits, you should consider self-exclusion.
Almost all online casinos provide this option, which basically enables you to block yourself from playing for a specific period of time. You can also try self-exclusion from online gambling sites altogether (not an easy thing to do) or try apps that block online gambling.
For problematic or compulsive gamblers, the self-exclusion option may not be effective, as there is always a way to get around it. In these cases, one should consider professional help.
One Addiction Is Enough
Those who develop a gambling addiction are also prone to alcoholism and drug abuse. When combined, these create a toxic cocktail.
A gambling disorder coupled with substance abuse can seriously distort reality, leaving people unable to make rational decisions. In other words, gambling under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in massive financial losses, which is why our gambling guide strongly advises against such practices. Being able to think clearly is critical to getting your gambling habit under control.
Whether it’s a casino card game, online gambling, sports gambling or the lottery, you need to be able to make sound choices even if you are a professional gambler.
Can You Escape?
Some gamble as a means of escaping life’s adversities, emotional pain, or psychological distress. Moreover, they’re often afraid to quit gambling because they haven’t developed mechanisms to cope with the pain and fear. They’re simply missing an alternative to sports betting, gambling online, or bingo.
In addition, using gambling to escape reality may cause bigger problems than the ones you are trying to escape from. It may be a great source of entertainment, but even the best gambling cannot be a solution or an escape to any of your problems. Many gambling websites provide valuable advice for safe gambling and the dangers related to gambling in a bad state of mind.
Balance Is Key
Excessive gambling may lead to problematic gambling, but it can also be a sign that you’re already a compulsive gambler. In this case, you should look for information about addiction and possible solutions to your problem. Gamblers tend to neglect their work and spend less time with their friends and family. Gambling in casinos becomes a substitute for your favorite sports, and your preferred gambling website becomes a substitute for movie night with your family.
In order to get a handle on your gambling, you need to engage in healthier activities. If this sounds too overwhelming and you feel that gambling is taking over your life, it’s time to do something about it.
When you finally decide to leave your favorite gaming sites, you might consider dialing a gambling hotline or seek online counseling. The first step is acknowledging that you have a problem.