As gambling seems to be getting more popular every day, researchers and policymakers are looking much more into analyzing gambling behaviour aspects, and potential problems these might cause.
An NHS-conducted national survey from 2016 showed that 0.7% of the people in England were identified as problem gamblers, which means approximately 1.2% of gamblers. Four years after this survey, some researchers have reasons to believe that the actual number of problem gamblers is in fact, much higher.
These assessment differences occur because people, even researchers, have different perceptions regarding problem gambling.
For example, before gambling using credit cards was banned in the UK, 22% of online gamblers were using them. Now, if gambling with borrowed money is not problematic, then I honestly don’t know what is.
We’re citing British studies here because they are the most relevant ones we found. The fact that other national gambling regulators and health agencies are not doing more research on this issue shows that gambling addiction is not taken seriously enough.
Factors that lead to gambling addiction
While most people gamble as a hobby, some of them think they might get rich doing this, or they drown their anxiety into never-ending casino sessions. Therefore, gambling regulators have persuaded casinos to integrate tools meant to fight or prevent addiction.
But are these tools efficient enough, and are gamblers actually using them? Or are they used more as an excuse, so casino operators can say they are fighting this issue, while in reality, they are not?
That is still hard to say, considering that no other serious surveys were conducted since 2016. However, these surveys give certain hints about signs of potential gambling issues and/or addiction. While some of them are quite intuitive, others show some insights that not everyone would have thought about. Let’s analyze them.
The amount of time you spend gambling is not the only potentially problematic factor, but also what you should have been doing with it. As we’ve said earlier, some people gamble due to anxiety or other everyday problems. Not only that this won’t solve your initial issues, but it probably will create new ones.
It’s normal to feel anxious about losing money gambling, but isn’t gambling more a potential risk to keep losing? The best way to limit your gambling losses is probably to quit gambling, not play more.
The first rule of gambling is “do not gamble more than you can afford to lose”. Gambling with money that was meant to go somewhere else is one of the most serious signs of problem gambling. If you find yourself doing this, you should stop gambling right away.
Gambling won’t only affect your budget and your schedule; it could also affect your relationships with other people and, most importantly, your health. Gambling can be a huge source of anxiety and stress, and it could seriously affect your physical and mental health. It’s crucial to assess your health condition constantly and to stop at the first negative signs you detect.
How to fight gambling addiction
Reach out to your friends and family
They’re the ones who know you best, and they have a direct interest to help you. Don’t be ashamed to admit you’re having a problem; it’s only human. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you’ll sort it out.
Seek professional help
Gambling is not necessarily a less serious addiction than the one for drugs or alcohol. It can damage your life, not only from a material point of view. It can ruin your health and family as well. Don’t forget that it’s never too late to seek help.
Ways to keep gambling responsibly
Read as much as you can about problem gambling and gambling addiction, as information is the first self-help tool you can use. There are lots of dedicated websites, and most of them are backed by national gambling regulators.
Canadian players can go online to relevant organizations’ websites, such as the Responsible Gambling Council, the British Columbia Responsible and Problem Gambling Program, or National Council on Problem Gambling.
Gambling Apps for players that play for fun
It’s better to gamble on apps and websites that have been tested and recommended by experts. There are certain standards and tools that gambling regulators impose, and lots of online platforms are using them, while others are not. These apps have integrated responsible gambling tools, and they’re free of bugs and well optimized as well.
Use the responsible gambling tools
They’re available on most online casino websites, and they can be quite helpful if used correctly. You can set limits regarding the amounts you deposit, wager, or lose while gambling. You can also limit your gaming sessions’ duration. Even more, you can take time-outs and impose reality checks, or you can self-exclude yourself from playing.
The self-exclusion feature is probably the most effective, as it will practically suspend your accounts on all the casinos that fall under a certain regulator’s jurisdiction. For example, if you’re a resident of Ontario and you choose to self-exclude for 6 months, your access will be restricted on all the casinos regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
So, which one is it? Hobby or addiction?
It turns out that it’s actually both, and the line between the two of these can be fine indeed. Some gamblers can honestly say they do it as a hobby, but some don’t even know they’re having an issue. The tools and advice we gave you here can help you identify potential gambling issues, and also fight full-blown addiction. It’s up to you to admit and work on your problems.