Why Do People Become Addicted to Gambling?
Asking why people become addicted to gambling is asking the same question why people become addicted to anything… unfortunately, there’s no univocal answer to be given. It’s clear it depends on psychological, social and bio-medical factors regarding the player, as well as with the essence of gambling and gaming that triggers certain emotions, of which the most important is of course expectation, ‘winning’ (euphoria) and ‘losing’ (distress).
However, the reason why one player becomes ‘hooked’ and the next one doesn’t (in other words: which combination of factors has lead to compulsive and problematic gambling) is probably just as unique as there are individual players.
How to Recognise Problem Gambling?
Although officially classified as a ‘compulsive disorder’ gambling addiction in many ways is comparable to an addiction to substances. That’s why it’s essential to recognise a (potential) problem as early as possible to be able to offer or get help and prevent worse from happening. Signs of problematic gaming can be:
- The player is constantly preoccupied with gambling or the (next) possibility to gamble;
- The player spends more and more time and more and more money on gambling;
- The player neglects work or study, social ties with friends and family;
- The player does everything to get money to gamble, including borrowing, cheating, stealing;
- The player often comes too late on appointments, is unexplained absent for (longer) time-periods, calls in sick more than average, is secretive about his or her whereabouts;
- The player undergoes changes in personality, has mood swings, seems worried, agitated or irritated, depressed, behaves manipulative, controlling;
- The player’s finances are a mess.
Many websites about problem gaming and gambling addiction have their own list of signs indicating a possible problem. Some of these websites, of which the links with a short description you can find below, also offer a self-test by which a player can measure if a gambling problem has developed, is developing or might develop.
How to Prevent and Deal with Problem Gambling?
The ultimate way to completely prevent a gambling problem is of course to never play or bet at all. But regularly having fun while playing for real money in an online or land-based casino doesn’t mean you automatically run the risk of getting addicted to gaming. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of casino visitors and real-money gamers are perfectly capable of controlling their gaming habit, thus making sure casino gaming stays exactly what it should be; exciting and fun entertainment.
A way of ‘prevention’ could already be to take one of the self-tests available on the internet or read more about the possible signs of a gaming problem. This will make a player or his or her surroundings aware of the possible dangers of gaming and at the same time conscious about ‘what to pay attention to’ to recognise a possible problem.
In case a player is suspected by his or her surroundings to have a gambling problem it’s absolutely necessary to not condemn or judge the player or confront him or her with feelings of anger, betrayal, disappointment et cetera. As a matter of fact, probably the best thing to do is to do nothing right away, if it isn’t seeking professional help (see the links below).
Problem gambling is an extremely complex matter and the environment of a problematic gambler simply needs to learn how to deal with the gambler’s behavior. Besides this, many seemingly obvious and well-meant interventions of family and friends to help the addicted loved-one might turn out to have a disastrous effect and not only maintain the problem, but sometimes even make it worse for all involved parties. Therefore it’s best to immediately get professional counseling on how to deal with the gambler and the problem.
To help players keep their casino gaming and betting experiences fun and exciting and avoid any negative ‘side effects’ the concept of ‘Responsible Gaming’ was developed.
Responsible Gaming is a ‘code of conduct’ to which gaming and betting operators need to comply to uphold the highest standards of safety, reliability, player protection, fair gaming, information privacy, customer support et cetera.
Most online casinos, and certainly the Netent Casinos, are more than willing to honor the principles of responsible gaming as it’s in their interest to cater to ‘healthy’ and therefore returning players.
On the other hand Responsible Gaming also provides a ‘code of conduct’ to players, which is usually summarised in a set of ‘tips’.
Tips for Responsible Gaming
Tips that can help to keep casino gaming and betting fun are:
- Set limits for the time and the money you want to spend on gaming and stick to it;
- Accept losses as the cost for your casino gaming entertainment;
- Never keep on playing to make up for losses (‘chasing losses’);
- Never borrow money to keep on gaming;
- Only play with money you can afford to lose;
- Never let gaming interfere with commitments or relationships;
- Don’t gamble while under influence or when emotionally unstable.
Professional Help for Problematic Gamers and Their Environment
There are several websites and organisations that provide more information about problem gambling and / or offer professional help for players with a gambling problem and their environment.
GamCare: GamCare is probably one of the best and renowned organisations dedicated to (resolving) problem gaming and providing assistance to problematic gamblers and their ‘entourage’. The independent charity is UK based.
Gambling Therapy: The online section of the British Gordon Moody Association aimed at problematic gamblers from outside the UK and with a website available in 29 languages.
NCPG-US: The website of the National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG) of the United States of America. The site offers various self-assessment tests.
Australian Problem Gambling
Australian National Problem Gambling Portal: Official National portal of the Australian Government regarding problem gambling issues with risk assessment tests, online self help tools, Live Chat, forums et cetera.
Gamblers Anonymous: The website of self-help group Gamblers Anonymous with all information about this organisation and anonymous help.
Gam-Anon : The website of Gam-Anon, the support and self help group for family and friends of problematic gamblers (linked to Gamblers Anonymous).