For most online casino players, gambling is harmless fun. However, a small proportion ends up needing to gamble more to get the same kick they had the first time. As such, these players end up not being able to control the time and money that they commit to gambling. Gambling that spirals out of control and becomes compulsive is commonly referred to as problem gambling. In 2016, the UKGC estimated that there were over 300,000 problem gamblers in the UK. Problem gambling can be harmful to your financial, psychological, and physical health. But, it doesn’t only affect the individual player’s life.
The effects of problem gambling usually spill over to family and friends. For example, problem amblers may end up borrowing or stealing from loved ones to sponsor their bets. They may also miss important commitments, such as work, school, or family events. Players are sometimes quick to dismiss problem gambling-related issues when they haven’t been affected. To help keep you on the safe side, in this guide, we’ll cover:
- Some of the reasons why players get addicted to gambling
- The main symptoms of problem gambling
- How you can prevent getting addicted to gambling
- How to protect children from gambling
- British organizations
Why Do People Get Addicted to Gambling?
Gambling addiction mainly stems from how the activity triggers your brain’s reward system. Once your mind rewards you for doing a particular activity, you’ll want to do it repeatedly, even when you know it’s not right for you. A huge part of fighting problem gambling is knowing which contributing factors are most likely to turn you into a problem gambler. We’ve listed the main ones below.
- Psychological reasons: One of the main reasons why non Gamstop UK casino players gamble is because they hope to get a significantly larger payout than what they invested. Problem gamblers usually have the illusion that they are luckier than average and they are on the brink of scoring a bigger win than what they’ve lost.
- Biological reasons: When you engage in any activities that your brain perceives as being potentially beneficial, the reward system squirts out dopamine. This hormone gives you a wave of satisfaction when you win, so you end up chasing the high by gambling more. Eventually, you’ll need to gamble even more to get the same amount of dopamine.
- Personal/Cultural reasons: Some people are more at risk of becoming addicted to gambling due to personal factors. For example, highly competitive, impulsive, or easily bored people may find an outlet from gambling. Some cultures may promote risky behaviour or have principles that fuel a player’s belief that their big win is just around the corner.
What are the Symptoms of Addicted Gamblers?
Virtually every online casino player will agree that the pastime is highly entertaining. We not only play, but discuss the Curacao casinos best games, casinos, and other gambling-related stuff. What then separates a healthy liking for casino games and problem gambling? How can you tell if you or a loved one is addicted to gambling? In this section, we’ll discuss the most recognizable symptoms of gambling addiction.
- Chasing losses: If you’re addicted to gambling, you’ll want to win no matter the cost. When you go through a few losses, you keep on placing more bets to get the high that’s associated with making a huge windfall. You’ll keep chasing your losses even when you know that the odds are against you.
- Taking loans for gambling: Problem gamblers don’t stop chasing losses when their bankroll gets tapped out. They’ll do whatever it takes, including borrowing and taking loans on the hope of getting more significant returns to cover the debt. The UKGC recently banned credit card casinos in an attempt to discourage gamblers from betting with borrowed funds.
- Trying to stop without success: Problem gamblers feel a compulsive urge to keep playing, even when they don’t enjoy betting anymore. They sometimes have an illusion that they can stop whenever they want, but have made several failed attempts. One classic example of failing to stop is to remove Gamstop self-exclusion, even after you’d committed to stopping gambling.
- Lying or hiding your activity: When you’re gambling a bit too much, the people surrounding you are usually in a better position to notice it and encourage you to slow down. If you’re addicted, you’ll find ways to make everyone believe that you’ve stopped. Problem gamblers, therefore, usually hide their activity and make up cover stories for why they need money.
How to Prevent a Gambling Addiction?
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Although there’s no foolproof way to prevent gambling addiction, there are several ways that you can use to better your chances of staying clear of addiction. If you think that you might have a hard time controlling the amount of money or time that you spend gambling, you can use the following responsible gambling tools.
- Self-Exclude with Gamstop: Whenever you feel like you’re losing perspective of your gambling activity, you can block yourself out from online gambling while you pursue other hobbies. One of the best ways to do that is by using gambling blockers. Gamstop is one such free gambling blocker that you can use to self-exclude from all UK-registered gambling sites.
- Set Time-Outs: Sometimes, players might want to take a short break from gambling. For example, you might want to avoid gambling for a day so you can finish an assignment or another commitment. In such instances, online European casinos allow you to take a time-out for periods between a day and six weeks.
- Use Gamban: Gamstop is free and very effective in the UK. However, the service does not affect gambling sites that are not registered by the UKGC. Self-excluded players can still play at offshore gambling sites. To block Gamstop-free casinos and betting sites that aren’t on Gamstop, you can use blocking software like Gamban.
- Set Deposit & Loss Limits: The allure of getting a huge payout is one of the major contributors to gambling addiction. As long as players can make another bet without ID, they will do so. To prevent chasing losses and getting addicted, you can set limits to how much money you can deposit or lose per day, week, or month.
- Unsubscribe from email newsletters: Gambling-related marketing material can be a strong trigger for getting back to gambling. For example, gambling sites may advertise exciting new games or promotions that sound irresistible. Once you try the game or claim the bonus, it’ll become difficult to stop gambling. An easy way to prevent addiction, therefore, is to unsubscribe from gambling-related emails.
- Contact the casino’s customer support: Some of the best worldwide casinos have customer support agents that are trained to assist customers with issues to do with responsible gambling. If you aren’t sure how you can play responsibly, you can simply chat with guys behind international online casino to find the best way for you.
Protection of Underage Players
According to a 2016 report by the UKGC, close to half a million children gamble in the UK and Wales every week. Gambling is an activity that is regarded as an activity that’s exclusively for adults. Children and adolescents are at an earlier stage of psychological and physiological development. Their social and mental immaturity means that they are harmed more by gambling and seeing others gamble. That’s especially so when their parents make out gambling to be a banal activity. While it’s still not possible to completely eradicate underage gambling, it may be possible in the future. However, no KYC casino like Pay n’ Play help to prevent it from happening anytime soon.
Online casinos not in UK can always put in place the latest age verification technology and other comprehensive measures to keep children out of their platforms. The design and content of these gambling should also be made to have no appeal to children. Parents and families play a significant role in reducing underage gambling. Children have the right to be informed about the dangers of gambling. It’s mostly up to their parents to communicate these risks. Parents can also install filtering software on shared computers to make gambling content less accessible to their children.
British Organizations that Help Problem Gamblers
The most significant step to overcoming problem gambling is accepting that you have a problem. However, even after you acknowledge your problem, it’s almost impossible to fight gambling addiction alone. It’s, therefore, vital to know that other gamblers have been in your shoes before and overcame, with professional help. The following British organizations can help you or other struggling gamblers to overcome as well.
- BeGambleAware is an organization that helps forward the interests of responsible gambling by commissioning research and evaluation of the most effective prevention methods. The organization also helps problem gamblers recover through the National Gambling Treatment Service. They also organize public health campaigns & offer practical support to local responsible gambling services.
- GamCare is an independent charity that has been providing gambling-related advice and support to UK gamblers for more than 20 years. The organization offers a variety of services for both players and people that have been affected by credit card online gambling. The services include free phone, live chat, and face-to-face treatment across the UK.
- Gamblers Anonymous is an international community of people who are fighting gambling addiction. The people meet regularly to share their struggles and experiences with gambling to strengthen each other and help others win against problem gambling. To join Gamblers Anonymous, you’re only required to have a desire to stop gambling.