Gambling is meant to be a fun and entertaining activity that also comes with the possibility of winning based on luck and chance. In fact, the chance of winning through luck-based games and events is the very aspect of gambling that makes it lucrative as well as enjoyable for people. And even though people don’t always win, they enjoy the overall experience of trying their luck on games.
But for some people, gambling can slowly develop into an addiction that starts to have a detrimental effect on their lives. It affects not just their finances but also their mental health and social well-being and can even lead people to conditions such as clinical depression, anxiety, or in worst cases, suicidal tendencies. So what was designed to be a fun activity and fun entertainment can also turn into a harmful habit, which can ruin a person’s social and financial life and physical and mental health if not addressed and treated correctly.
For this very reason, casino operators and different organizations have taken measures to spread awareness about addiction and encourage players to follow responsible gambling measures. It is also the responsibility of casino players to control their gambling activity and seek help if they experience addiction symptoms. As part of our efforts to help casino players gamble safely and responsibly, we will be explaining all the essential information about gambling addiction and how players can practice responsible gambling.
Understanding Gambling Addiction
Some people may believe that gambling addiction is just a habit that can be broken easily. But the problem is far more serious than some imagine, and severe gambling addiction has even been classified as a clinical disorder and mental illness if it reaches an extreme point and displays certain symptoms.
So what is it that turns gambling into an addiction? Similar to addiction caused by substance abuse, gambling addiction also starts with the formation of compulsive habits. People who don’t monitor the time and money they spend on gambling can quickly make a habit out of it.
The prospect of being able to win is a major factor that causes people to keep playing.
Even after a series of losses, the hope of landing one big win urges them to play even more. People who have already won a profitable amount also tend to keep going to win even more.
So the root of gambling addiction is the desire to gain more profits from something as enjoyable as playing a game of chance.
Over time, the brain’s reward system gets hooked to the pleasure it gets from gambling, either by winning or by clinging on to the hope of winning even when the person is losing.
But the lure of winning is not the only factor that leads to gambling addiction. Here are some more aspects that contribute towards it:
• Using gambling activity as a means to escape from the stress
• Gambling to experience pleasure and be free from boredom
• Indulging in gambling to cope with lack of social interactions
• Resorting to gambling to improve financial condition
• Developing a gambling habit by following other people who gamble, be it friends, family, or peers.
Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Someone who is addicted to gambling may not be aware of it. Denial is an essential aspect of any addiction, and that applies to gambling as well. Knowing the symptoms of gambling addiction will help you identify if you or someone you know are suffering from it. These are the primary symptoms of gambling addiction:
- Losing and continually trying to cover the losses by gambling even more.
- Borrowing from others or even resorting to illegal and criminal activities such as theft for gambling.
- Spending a majority of one’s time on gambling activities every day or on a regular basis.
- Constantly thinking about gambling even when involved in other activities.
- Spending most of one’s finances on gambling, even more than on basic necessities and daily expenses.
- Losing interest and motivation in all other activities except gambling.
- Hiding one’s gambling habits from other people.
If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s a tell-tale sign of gambling addiction. Those who experience such symptoms in less intensity are already facing the onset of addiction, which will only get severe and more compulsive with time.
And if someone is exhibiting multiple symptoms, it could very well indicate that the addiction has become a severe clinical disorder. In either case, it’s always best to seek help as soon as one experiences the slightest symptom.
Harmful Effects of Gambling Addiction
Understanding and acknowledging the detrimental effects of gambling addiction can encourage people to break away from it, so let’s look at the dangerous impact of gambling addiction on people’s lives.
It’s evident that gambling addiction will lead to a considerable loss and ruin one’s financial status. It can lead to a person going bankrupt, or even worse, amassing huge debts by borrowing for gambling. People can lose their job and even their homes and property due to excessive gambling.
Impact on Social Life
Someone addicted to gambling will eventually isolate themselves from friends, family, and people around them in general. They spend most of their time indulging in different types of gambling activity and hardly interact with others.
Impact on Mental and Emotional Health
Relating to both the points above, financial losses will cause a lot of stress, while alienating oneself from others will lead to loneliness. And these factors can contribute to mental disorders such as clinical depression and anxiety.
People addicted to gambling also fail to experience similar excitement and pleasure from other activities and eventually lose interest in everything else around them. In worst cases, the addiction can ruin their lives to the point where they develop suicidal tendencies.
Impact on Physical Health
Deteriorating mental health in itself has a direct impact on the person’s physical health. On top of that, someone addicted to gambling will lose interest to indulge in physical activities, and some may even experience a loss of appetite.
Responsible Gambling – An Effort to Prevent Gambling Addiction
Responsible gambling is an initiative and a set of guidelines, policies, and practices pushed forward by the entire gambling industry, in general, to help gamblers become aware of the negative effects of gambling and prevent going into gambling addiction. Even though such practices are mainly devised to prevent players from getting addicted to gambling, the identification and treatment of players who are already addicted will also fall under the umbrella of responsible gambling.
Since it’s a widespread effort from the whole gambling industry, it includes the operators, gaming boards and authorities, government, private institutions, and even the community of players. They all have their own roles towards the implementation of responsible gambling practices, as explained below:
Government and Regulatory Bodies
The role of government and regulatory bodies such as gaming control boards is to formulate policies on responsible gambling and ensure that licensed gambling operators comply with those policies.
The role of gambling operators is to comply with responsible gambling practices through measures such as:
• Option for players to set limits on their deposits, winnings, losses, and play time.
• Restricting access to players who have displayed addictive gambling behaviour.
• Restricting access to underage people through age verification procedures.
• Security against illegal, unfair, and criminal activities on the platform.
• Protecting information of players.
• Honest and ethical marketing of their platform, while highlighting the negative effects of gambling as well.
Private institutions such as rehabilitation centers and gambling hotlines help people who experience gambling addiction symptoms to break free from the habit and either quit gambling altogether or go back to practicing responsible gambling and only gamble occasionally for fun as it is intended.
Community of Players
The players themselves have a responsibility to make themselves aware of the negative effects of gambling and stop themselves from getting addicted to it. Not just that, but players must also help other gamblers whenever possible, either by encouraging them to gamble responsibly or by assisting them in seeking treatment if they are already struggling with gambling addictions.
Steps to Practice Responsible Gambling
Anyone can get addicted to gambling if they don’t monitor their activity. So you should not deny the possibility that you too could be affected by it, and take some preventive measures right away. For some people, it’s a matter of will power where they can indulge in gambling regularly but still control themselves and not get addicted to it. But that’s not the case for everyone, so if you feel the urge to gamble more frequently or are having a hard time limiting your gambling activity, then here are some steps you can take:
- Set deposit limits on the gambling platform. These limits can be set to daily, weekly, and monthly deposits, and when you reach the limit, the platform will not allow you to make any more deposits, which puts a stop to your gambling.
- Self-exclude yourself from gambling. Some platforms have readily available self-exclusion features where you can lock your account for a certain amount of time, and you won’t be able to log in by any means until the time is over. And in some platforms, you might need to contact customer support and request them to lock your account for a certain amount of self-exclusion period.
- Opt-out of promotions from gambling platforms so that you won’t receive any messages, notifications, and offers from them.
- Share your gambling habits with friends and family and let them know about them so that they will be aware and intervene if things get bad.
- Monitor your finances properly and make sure you have a healthy financial status because many people resort to gambling to improve bad financial conditions.
- Spend time in other activities, be it spending time with friends and family, pursuing a hobby, taking a vacation, exercising, or anything that you love, and that can take your mind off gambling.
- Lastly, reach out to people around you or hotlines and gambling control centers if you are beginning to experience a strong urge to gamble compulsively or any symptom of gambling addiction.
Gambling isn’t a dangerous activity in itself, which is why it’s even legalized as a form of entertainment and recreation in many countries. But there is always the possibility that it can start as a source of joy and later transform into a harmful addiction.
By making yourself aware of the effects of gambling addiction and following responsible gambling practices, you can keep on enjoying it without letting it turn into something dangerous. And to raise awareness among players, we have shared all the essential information about responsible gambling in this guide.