Problem Gambling and Getting Help

Problem gambling, gambling addiction, or compulsive gambling, can affect anyone who places bets on games or sports. There are those that can gamble their whole lives and will not develop gambling problems while others find that that gambling can affect their lives negatively in a number of ways.

You know you have a gambling problem if you are unable to stop even if you wish to do so. There are a number of warning signs that indicate potential gambling addiction.

  • You begin to feel that you must be gambling, and when you are not, you feel depressed and may be restless until you gamble again.
  • You have tried to cut down the amount of time or money you spend on gambling, but are not able to do so.
  • You lie to those around you regarding how much you gamble, and the financial losses you have sustained gambling.
  • You borrow or steal large amounts of money to support your gambling habit.
  • You use money set aside for bills and debts for gambling instead of their intended use.
  • You gamble at any opportunity, including your workplace or educational institution.
  • You spend a large amount of time discussing what you will do with winnings you have not yet made.
  • You feel the need to place bigger and bigger bets in order to continue feeling the thrill of gambling.
  • You use gambling as a regular escape from your marriage or other relationships.

For those who do see signs of problem gambling in themselves or others that they are close to, there is help available. It is always best to prevent problem gambling when possible, but simply recognising that you have a problem is a good first step to getting the help you need. Problem gambling does not affect everyone. Those who are affected are not always able to help themselves because it is an impulse-control disorder.

To help prevent gambling problems, you can make sure to set daily, weekly, or monthly limits for real money gambling, and limit the length of your gambling sessions. Look at gambling as a form of entertainment, not the answer to paying off debts or making money.

For help with gambling problems, you can take a break by making use of voluntary exclusion periods. If problem gambling is progressing to a more serious level, you will need to contact a professional that deals with addictions or one of the many organisations that help those with gambling addictions.