Problem gambling and how to get help
Gambling is meant to be a fun and enjoyable leisure activity. If you know how to gamble safely then you can keep your casino play in check. However, if gambling ever becomes more than a fun pastime then it’s time to take a step back and assess your relationship with it.
It’s important to be aware of the early warning signs that you might have an issue with gambling and what you can do about it. If you don’t act in time then negative gambling behaviour can begin to harm your health, relationships, and even leave you in serious debt.
How to gamble safely and responsibly
By knowing how to gamble safely and responsibly from the start, you’ll be in the best place to keep tabs on your personal gambling activity. This can help you to avoid falling into bad habits and letting gaming problems take over your life. The best cure is prevention as the old saying goes.
Here are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you are gambling in a safe and responsible way at all times.
Know your financial responsibilities
Stay on top of your personal and household finances to make sure that you can really afford to gamble. Always pay important bills first, such as your mortgage, utilities etc., when you get your pay cheque, before you start to think about spending anything on gambling.
Set a budget
Setting a budget will ensure that you are not spending more than you can afford to on gambling each month. When you have met your financial responsibilities, as above, see what’s left and plan out what you can afford to spend. Doing it this way eliminates having a random spending pattern which can quickly get out of control.
Stick to your budget
Once you’ve set a budget, it’s important that you stick to it. There’s no point in doing all that hard work only to spaff it up the wall by ignoring it later on. Know what your daily, weekly or monthly gambling budget is and step away once it is spent or before.
Deal with your debts first
Debt isn’t something that will go away by ignoring it so make sure you tackle it head-on. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and having a plan of how you will repay your debts will give you a clearer mindset.
Choose your friends wisely
If you are hanging out with people who are encouraging you to gamble more or have issues of their own it will make the problem worse. Spending time with friends or family who don’t gamble will give you a better chance of gambling responsibly.
Seek help anytime
You don’t need to be a gambling addict to seek the help and advice of others. If you feel that gambling is becoming even a slightly negative experience then talk to friends or family about it. If you’d rather speak to a professional in confidence then check out the organisations linked at the bottom of this page. A problem shared is a problem halved as they say!
How to recognise a problem
It can be tricky to recognise a problem when it is so personal to you. Many people feel inclined to deny they have an issue and refuse to talk about it or get help until it starts to have a major effect on their life.
Recognising the signs of gambling addiction early can help to avoid bigger issues in the future. Here are some warning signs that you might have an issue with your gambling and should seek some help and advice. If you even sometimes do any of the things mentioned here then it’s time to seek self or professional help.
You bet more than you can afford
As mentioned above, it’s important to set a budget and pay important bills first. If your gambling is eating up funds that should be used for daily expenses then you can’t afford to gamble and should seek advice. If this isn’t addressed you can easily rack up serious debts and further financial woes.
Your bets increasing to get the same feeling
If you find that you need to wager bigger and bigger amounts just to experience the same thrill from casino games then you have a gambling issue. Seek advice or place limits using the casino’s controls to limit your spending.
You are trying to win back money you have lost
Chasing losses is a sign that gambling is becoming an issue for you. It’s a game of chance and you need to accept that losses occur as well as wins. There’s no such thing as a hot or cold streak as all casino games have truly random outcomes. Playing at crypto casinos should be fun and never used as a way to gain money or invest it.
You have borrowed money or sold things to get money to gamble
Gambling funds should only come from money that you can afford to spend. Creating debts or selling things you would otherwise use is a sign of a gambling issue occurring.
You are wondering if you have a gambling problem
Gut instinct is usually correct. If you feel that your gambling is becoming an issue, the chances are it is. Have a chat with one of the professional contacts at the foot of this page to get some clarity on the situation.
You are having health problems, feelings of stress or anxiety
Gambling problems can easily affect both physical and mental health. If you’ve noticed a personal deterioration in either then seek help from a professional as soon as you can.
Comments from others
Other people are great at noticing things that you might not pick up on easily. If you have gotten any comments from friends or family about your gambling habits then it’s time to address them regardless of what you think. We are often the last ones to admit there’s an issue so have an honest chat with someone you trust to get their opinion.
Feelings of guilt
Playing online casino games should be an enjoyable experience. If you are starting to feel guilty when you gamble then the chances are there is a good reason behind that feeling. Be honest with yourself and think why this might be happening and then seek out some help to rectify it.
How to overcome a gambling addiction
Identifying that you have an issue with gambling is a great start but the next step is to find a way to overcome it. There are many ways that you can begin to do this both on your own and with the help of some professional organisations.
Here we are going to look at both options in detail so that you can decide which approach is going to work best for you.
Overcoming a gambling problem on your own
There are many tools and methods around to help you get your gambling under control or remove it from your life completely. Here are some of the main options available to anyone who feels that they have a gambling issue.
Any legitimate online casino should have the options for players to self-exclude if they wish to. The exact options can vary from one casino to the next but the basic idea is that a player can block themselves from the casino for a set amount of time. This could be a few weeks to a few years and makes it harder for a player to gain access to their casino account.
If you are playing at casinos which are licensed in the UK then the GAMSTOP scheme is designed to activate self-exclusion for several casino brands at once. Not all online casinos are signed up right now and it’s limited to UK players only but it’s still a positive step to take.
Casino blocking software
Installing blocking software can help you to restrict access to gambling sites on your desktop or mobile devices. Some software is general-purpose, designed to restrict any adult content, whilst other programs are specific to casino sites.
Software, such as Gamblock, can pinpoint casino sites and prevent you from viewing them on your smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. Using Gamblock should reduce the temptation to login and play at online casinos whenever you would usually.
Managing your finances
As discussed above, getting your personal finances under control will go a long way to help with your spending on gambling. Start by breaking down all your monthly incomings and outgoings on paper or in a spreadsheet.
Then you can start to set a budget for your essential expenses and this will show you what’s leftover each month. Getting the help of a friend or family member to do this might be a big help and boost your chances of staying on track.
Take an online course
The UK based gambling addiction charity Gamcare runs a free online course which can help you tackle any gambling problems you might have. The GameChange Course runs over 8 weeks and is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help problem gamblers. You also get a 20-minute call each week from a Gamcare professional to help you with your progress.
Overcoming a gaming problem with professional help
Reaching out for professional help can be a major step forward in dealing with a gambling addiction and its related issues. Speaking to experts who are trained to help people recover from gambling issues is the best way to get the help you need right when you need it most.
The country-specific professional charities and organisations listed below can help you tackle problem gambling head-on. They all offer help and support to get you started in the right direction to deal with any problems arising from gambling.
Gambling Help Online offers help and advice 24/7 via the phone on 1800 858 858 on through live chat on their site at https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au.
Help for players in Austria at http://www.spielsuchthilfe.at/spielsuchthilfe.html.
SOS SPELEN via phone at 0800 35 777 and https://gokhulp.be.
National gambling support is given on 613-739-1535 or local groups can be found at https://canadasafetycouncil.org/gambling-addiction.
The Danish Gambling Authority can be found at https://spillemyndigheden.dk/behandling.
Adictel Prevention Addiction via email at firstname.lastname@example.org 24/7 or online at www.adictel.com/en/.
Gluecksspielsucht Problem Gambling Hotline 0800 0776611 or via www.glücksspielsucht.de.
GambleAware Ireland National Gambling Helpline on 1800 753 753 and advice at www.gambleaware.ie.
Korea Center for Gambling Problems can be found at https://www.kcgp.or.kr.
The Responsible Gambling Foundation has advice and help at http://rgf.org.mt.
AGOG Foundation runs the national information number at 0900-2177721 with more advice at www.agog.nl.
Help and advice for anyone on 0800 654 655 or go online to http://www.gamblinghelpline.co.nz.
Call the Hjelpelinjen Helpline on 800 800 40 or get more details for gambling problem help at www.hjelpelinjen.no.
The National Council on Problem Gambling can be found at http://www.ncpg.org.sg or call the national helpline on 800 6 66866.
National Responsible Gambling Problem Gambling Counselling on 0800 006 008 with more advice and a self-help quiz at www.responsiblegambling.co.za.
You can get advice and support via phone, chat, SMS and email with details found at www.stodlinjen.se.
Help from Careplay is available on 041 367 48 47 or at www.careplay.ch.
Gamcare runs the UK National Gambling Helpline and also has a wealth of advice on their website to help anyone identify and help with gambling issues. Advisers are available 24 hours a day on Freephone 0808 8020 133 or via live webchat at https://www.gamcare.org.uk.
Gamblers Anonymous also runs local help groups in the UK. You can find your nearest on their site https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk.