Responsible Gambling Guide
Gambling has been around for several centuries and primarily as a way of entertainment. Going by the industry’s current developments especially sports betting and online casinos, its popularity is only rising. There is no denying that it is a fun-filled form of entertainment, especially with the chance of being highly lucrative at times. This lure, though, can be dangerous if you view gambling as a source of income. It can be dangerous when it becomes an addiction, and it affects your general wellbeing.
The obvious danger with a gambling addiction is the heavy financial loss you will incur, but it can exert an even higher toll on your mental and physical health. Therefore, you must recognise gambling only as a form of entertainment and not a way to earn money. Sure, some people have won huge amounts in different forms, especially in sports betting and progressive jackpots. However, no one wins always, and most people never get these life-changing amounts; instead, they lose more than they win. You have to view the amount you spend on gambling as a cost for entertainment, not an investment, and thus you cannot spend more than you can afford as this is not an investment with guaranteed returns.
How to Recognise the Problem
Developing a gambling addiction works in the same manner as drug or alcohol addiction, with the activity stimulating the same reward system of the brain. Casual gamblers know when to stop whether they are winning or not or set loss limits. On the other hand, someone with a gambling problem feels compelled to chase losses in the hope of winning the next round.
So, the first clear sign of a problem is when you find it hard to stop gambling of your own volition, especially when you are making losses. Other clear signs of a problem are when you continually chase losses, deplete savings, hide your behaviour debt, accumulate debt, or even in extreme cases, resort to theft because of gambling. You can also recognise the problem if you need to gamble with increasingly more money just to get the same thrill as before from gambling. Another significant way you can recognise the problem is losing too much money.
If you find yourself losing too much money when gaming, it is time you were concerned about whether you have a problem rather than your strategies. Losing too much money is a result of a couple of other symptoms; chasing losses, gambling too much money and gambling more than you can afford to lose. When you start chasing losses, you only increase the risk of losing more money, and then you have to spend more to try and recover the preceding losses and not even make a return on your earlier bet. When you gamble too much money, it means you have no initial plan with set limits on how much you will gamble that day. It also means you are not considering your losses versus what you can afford to lose.
Gambling consumes your mind
If you spend most of your time thinking about gambling, then you may need help. People with this addiction spend time going over previous bets, researching strategies talking about endlessly, and that is if they are not gambling. Gaming becomes an obsession, and it takes priority, and your mind is under huge anxiety that can only be relieved by the next gambling session. As a result of this obsession, you cannot evaluate your actions critically, and you also cannot concentrate on your other aspects of life. It is this obsession that sees areas like your work life and relationships suffer.
You Feel Bad
Similar to other addictions, gambling may leave you with feelings of guilt and shame during the periods you are not gambling or obsessing over the action. In these moments, you may find yourself regretting your actions, the money lost and the effects in other aspects of your life. You may also be feeling bad over your seemingly powerless condition to stop yourself from the habit even after promising yourself that you will stop. Gambling can also affect your moods such that when the excitement wanes, you find yourself irritable and angry whenever you are not gambling or lack the finances to support your habit.
You sleep badly
Gambling can affect your sleep habits which in the end can have adverse effects on your health and daily life. Thanks to the convenience brought about by online casinos and mobile gambling, many users find themselves foregoing sleep to gamble online. You end up having few hours of sleep resulting in sleep deprivation. Even when not gambling, your obsession with gambling could leave you awake as you think about previous and future bets. Poor quality of sleep leaves you sloppy the following day and may lead to other health issues.
How can I stay in control?
The development of a gambling problem starts with you losing control every time you place a bet or get in a casino. Therefore, the biggest step in preventing gambling addiction is to maintain your control when gambling. You should be able to decide when to gamble and how much you will spend without ever having to struggle in giving in to the urge to keep on placing bets or gambling at any moment and every day.
The first step is to avoid temptations, whether it is to view the day’s stakes or call your bookie or check through a few casino games. You can start by signing out of any casinos or betting websites you are on and removing any apps on your phone. Remove any prompts and content that makes gambling appear convenient or tempting. You should also check on your cravings for addiction and learn to postpone them, thus giving you control over the time you choose to gamble. The biggest step in maintaining control is knowing how to keep money and time limits.
Set a budget with limits
The first thing you need to do is set a budget beforehand for your betting. You can have a monthly budget and then spread this out over the weeks, which will clearly show you that you cannot gamble daily. To avoid the temptation that comes with gambling away any winnings, consider this as money for next month’s gambling, thus saving you extra out of the pocket expenditure.
It should also be a rule that you cannot gamble with debt, so no use of credit cards or borrowing money elsewhere or using the money for another item to support gambling. Fortunately, most online casinos allow you to set either your spend limit or your loss limit, and you should make use of these features.
Set time limits
While a budget limit will help control how much you spend, it cannot be fully effective if you do not limit your time. The more time you spend around casinos and betting portals, the more likely you are to spend money. There are also free spins and other bonuses which can keep you trapped in a casino, spending time you should have used doing other things. Therefore, as with money, set the number of hours you want to spend over a month, say two hours every week spread across different days. When you set up a routine, it is easy not to feel obsessed with the compulsive urge to bet anytime.
From the onset, you should not let gambling take any significant role in your life. It should be a pastime that can be easily replaced or skipped in favour of other urgent and meaningful things in life. That should be reflected in the amount of time and money you allocate to any gambling activity. It should also be reflected in the ease with which you can skip or postpone gambling. Even among entertainment options, seek to value other options higher than gambling.
Responsible Gambling Tips
Gambling responsibly entails following practices that prevent you from losing control of the activity. These tips prevent your brain from becoming reliant on gambling to receive its ‘happiness fix. The first two steps, as you have read above, is gambling with a defined budget and time limit. You should not go over these limits whether you have made a loss or a win, even if you feel you are on a hot streak. Secondly, you should not chase a loss as this is more likely to lead you to a worse situation than recovering the lost amount. You should also have a good understanding of how different games and bets work instead of just gambling blindly and purely on luck. It is also crucial that you take constant breaks during gambling sessions and also generally from gambling. The first kind of break allows you no to be caught in the moment, and the second kind ensures gambling does not become a habit. Knowing when to stop is crucial, and the four tips below will help you stop at the right moment. Think about the casino as fun and entertainment, not a way of making money. Gambling is strictly a way of entertainment, not an easy way for making money. Even professional gamblers understand this despite committing many hours to learn the different games or analysing different sports.
You cannot make a living out of gambling. On the contrary, you should approach gambling expecting to lose. Any winnings are merely tokens, and once you appreciate this, you will not be hard-pressed to take on huge risks in the hope of winning big, nor will you feel compelled to chase losses. More importantly, once you understand that gambling is an activity that losses your money, you will not be eager to keep engaging in the same activity. Consider it as a costly form of entertainment since it is, and even the free bonuses cost you more in wagering requirements. It is the allure of winning it big that keeps you hooked, yet the game is rigged or, in the case of sports betting, too unpredictable. If this were not the case, then the casinos and betting companies would not rake so much profit even with harsh taxes.
Bet money you are not afraid to lose
Since you accept that you will most likely lose, you cannot bet using large sums of money. It will be equivalent to throwing away your money. Betting with amounts you can afford to lose means you can pay for your entertainment, and you should measure the sums both for the moment and across the whole month and year. Thus, when the loss happens, you will not feel compelled to regain your money, nor will you be left sad and desolate. More importantly, the loss will not have a bearing on your financial obligations, leaving you in control of your betting habit.
Alcohol and substance use impairs your judgement which can affect all your decision-making during gambling. It is easy to get caught up in the euphoria and forget about your time and money limits. You will not be able to keep track of time, and you can also end up betting on huge sums of money without even assessing your options and chances.
Besides alcohol and substance abuse, stress and depression can also affect your sobriety and thus your decision-making. You should not use betting and gambling as a coping mechanism for stress and other issues in your life. When you are sober, you are objective, and it is easy to remember the consequences of your actions; hence it is easy to stop, unlike when your mind is clouded.
Stop playing after the third loss
Given the nature of gambling and betting, there are plenty of games and chances to explore. Thus, stopping after your first loss seems impractical. If you have divided your betting amount so that you are not using it all on your first bet, then a third loss should signal you it is time to leave. Even if the first bets came with winnings, they are not insurance enough, and it also is no fun if every session, you end up losing everything, including the rare wins. A third loss is long enough to have tried your luck but also short enough to prevent you from getting into loss chasing.
How can I seek help?
The first step in overcoming a gambling problem is recognising that you have one. Once you accept that you have a problem, you should not try to overcome it on your own. Struggling to stop addiction is a sure sign that you are addicted, and there is no need to bear the burden alone. There are many organisations locally and globally that can assist you with your gambling addiction. Even at your home or in your social circles, you can open up to friends and family. This is important for several reasons; first, it helps them avoid presenting you with temptation or triggers for gambling, especially if you gamble in a group. Secondly, it helps you break the shame and guilt you feel and thirdly, they become part of your healing process, holding you accountable and providing alternative ways to occupy your time.
Australian organisations which can help
There are several organisations available in Australia that provide services to help you with your gambling addictions; these include;
- Lifeline. This organisation provides support to people facing a range of challenges, from all forms of addictions to domestic violence. It provides its services through online platforms, several telephone lines or its 40 centres across Australia. They provide mental and financial counselling and other resources you may need to overcome your gambling problem.
- Gambling Help Online . It is an online platform funded by the government that deals exclusively with gambling addiction. It provides free 24/7 email and chats counselling services and extensive self-help information on the website. It also links you to further helps you may need, including face-to-face counselling.
- Australian Gambling Research Center. This platform provides you with all the resources you need to get help for your gambling addiction. They include links to online self-help programs and the National Gambling Helpline. You can call on 1800 858 858.
- Gambling Anonymous Australia
GAA is the Australian chapter of the international fellowship of gamblers who are recovering from their addiction. They have many local chapters across Australia and hold weekly meetings to encourage each other. They have educational resources and professional counsellors. More importantly, you get help and support from people going through the same challenge.
- Gambler’s Help. This organisation helps gamblers primarily in the metropolitan, urban and rural Victoria area. It requires. They have online, face to face and telephone support services and hold meetings. They provide different of counselling, community education and peer support.
While gambling has always held the promise of fun and even a chance to win while at it, it has a dangerous risk of addiction. Once you develop a gambling problem, it is easy to ruin your relationships, your work and social life and your financial standing getting into debt. Gambling addiction laces a heavy burden on your health and other aspects of your life as it becomes an obsessive compulsion. As with all other addictions, it helps to prevent them from developing through maintaining control of your activities. You can achieve this through placing time and money limits and using the responsible gambling tips this article describes. However, should you notice symptoms of a gambling problem, seek help from family and friends and professional counsellors.