You’ve come to the right place if you want to learn about gambling responsibly. We want sports betting and casino gameplay to be a source of fun in your life. Learn some cool tips and tricks for managing your time and money well. If you follow our advice, gambling can be something positive, an exciting hobby that’s a fun way to pass your free time.
If you get into gambling addiction, you can put your personal life, family, relationships, and work at risk. It’s so easy to spiral out of control and go to a dark place when you’re actively gambling or betting and doing so without any boundaries or restraint. Find out how to overcome gambling addictions and get the help you need if you feel you’ve gone too far.
We’ve also included a section that covers knowing the warning sign that someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction. Let’s get into this and learn how you can enjoy gambling in a healthy way or find the resources to help you with your gambling problems.
What Is Responsible Gambling?
Responsible gambling is when you use gambling as a means of fun or entertainment, but you exercise control and restraint in how much money and time you dedicate to it. Shortly, we’ll go over how you can become a responsible gambler and exercise good practices that make gambling fun and safe, not stressful or risky to your mental and emotional health.
To understand responsible gambling more fully, we need to talk about gambling addictions, which is responsible gambling that’s turned on its head. Knowing what comes with gambling addiction and problem gambling can help us better understand the actions we want to avoid and the healthier gambling alternatives we want to embrace.
Gambling addictions are serious business. Even if the person with the addiction knows what they’re doing is bad for them, they generally cannot stop their behavior. Gambling addictions are classified as mental health conditions, but varying degrees of severity exist.
Interestingly, biological, psychological, and social factors are at play when it comes to gambling addictions. For instance, there’s the dopamine hit your brain gets when you win a sports bet or your favorite slot machine cashes out. This phenomenon alone is responsible for so much of the mess that addicted gamblers find themselves in.
There’s also the false belief that a machine will eventually pay out after it’s delivered a long series of losses because it’s bound to, right? This twisted, impaired thinking leads many gamblers to chase their losses, hoping that a win is around the corner to make up for the previous results.
Types of Gambling
There are three kinds of gambling we’d like to discuss. They’re in order from most to least severe. When talking about gambling addictions, we mainly refer to compulsive gambling.
- Compulsive Gambling: These people have little control over their desire to gamble. They’ll bet even if the losses are stacking up quickly or they don’t have the money to fund it.
- Binge Gambling: This is like compulsive gambling, but it’s contained a few times a year or for special events. These people might not look like they have a gambling problem, but it becomes apparent when they go on one of their binge sessions.
- Problem Gaming: This is a less severe gambling addiction, but it is where many compulsive gambling addictions begin. These people exercise better control over their gambling habits, but they experience what compulsive gamblers experience, like chasing losses or having their habits interfere with relationships.
Various biological, psychological, and social factors can cause these gambling addictions. Still, responsible gambling practices can prevent people from developing these addictions and keep the impulse to gamble recklessly in check.
How to Gamble Responsibly
Check out the best ways you can be a responsible gambler or bettor. You want to avoid several behaviors to become a stable, steady gambler who doesn’t let this leisure activity destroy your life.
- Understand Gambling for Fun vs. Gambling for Money: Some people gamble because they need money or do it for the thrill of winning.This is precisely what you want to avoid; responsible gambling comes from viewing it as a fun activity, albeit restrained and controlled, and not something you’re doing to chase a dopamine hit.
- Set Up a Budget: Setting up a budget forces you to establish time and money limits. Before hopping on your favorite gambling app or heading to the casino or sportsbook near you, set aside money you’ll use for that gambling session. Make a point of never going over this amount. Once you’ve run out of funds, that’s the end of the session-moving on.
- Don’t Chase Losses: If you’re running into a string of losses, that is usually a good sign to take a break from things. Chasing losses can cause frustration as you sink deeper into the hole, thinking your win is right around the corner. Know when it’s time to cut your losses.
- Gamble Sober: It’s always a bad idea to gamble when you have a few drinks. Your judgment gets clouded, and you tend to make worse decisions when you’re tipsy or under the influence.
- Don’t Gamble When You’re Frustrate: Never use gambling to deal with anger or frustration. This could lead to many bad financial decisions if you begin running into a string of losses. It’s best to gamble when you’re in a good mood, and you can make better judgment calls on how much money you’re willing to dedicate to your session.
- Don’t Prioritize Gambling Over the Essentials: Work your job to the best of your ability. Spend time with your family and friends.Make sure you’re getting things done around your home. Don’t prioritize gambling over the critical business of your daily life. There are countless stories of gambling addictions ruining peoples’ lives. Practice responsible gambling, please.
- Take Advantage of the Self-Exclusion Lists: If you’re generally responsible with gambling but want an extra layer of protection or accountability, you can put yourself on self-exclusion lists from casinos, racetracks, or betting shops for periods of a few months or even a year or more.
Signs of Problem Gambling
If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, seeking professional help, be it a certified counselor or psychiatrist, is best. They’re the ones who can get a complete evaluation of your situation and make an accurate diagnosis. Gambling addictions are a mental health condition and should be taken seriously. Professionals claim there are a ton of red flags that you can look for that indicate someone has a gambling addiction. These include the following:
- You’re gambling for the excitement of winning or chasing the thrill of a big payout.
- You turn to gambling to deal with frustration, anger, or pain.
- You’re willing to risk jobs or relationships to maintain your gambling lifestyle.
- You become angry, upset, or get short with people when you’ve gone a while without gambling.
- You think about gambling and what you will do next to chase that feeling you love.
- You try to cut back on gambling, but you’re never successful.
- You chase losses.
- You’re in a bad financial spot and ask family or friends for money to pay bills or to gamble with.
- You’re secretive about your gambling activities or the financial strains you might be under because of irresponsible gambling.
- You feel compelled to gamble more even if your bankroll is growing and you’re not in the red.
- You lose interest in doing other things.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, you might have compulsive gambling disorder if you display at least four of these signs, but again, we don’t want you to read this list and think you’ve gotten a complete diagnosis. We aren’t professionals in this realm, and we encourage you to see someone who can actually assess and help you.
How/Where to Get Help/Support
You might be struggling with a terrible gambling addiction, and things might seem dark, but rest assured, there are plenty of resources for people who want to overcome their impulses and compulsion to gamble recklessly. Not only are there organizations and support groups for those with gambling addiction, but some also cater to family, friends, or loved ones who know someone.
Help’s always available, but not every option will yield the best results for everyone. Some people might become involved in multiple groups to overcome strong gambling temptations. Find the right kind of help or support you need as you navigate this time in your life.
- Gamblers Anonymous: This 12-step program for recovering gamblers is available only to people who desire to overcome their addiction and bad habits. Check out www.gamblersanonymous.org.
- Gam-Anon: A support group for the loved ones of problem gamblers where they can get encouragement from others.
- Gam-A-Teen: A support group for the children of problem gamblers where they can get encouragement from others.
- The National Council on Problem Gambling: Independent of the gambling industry, the NCPG advocates for problem gamblers, their families, and children. Check out the treatment information and find counselors nationwide when you visit www.ncpgambling.org.
- National Problem Gambling Helpline Network: This hotline is run by the National Council on Problem Gambling. Call 800-522-4700 to access local resources to help you with your gambling addiction.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: This is a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services.It’s a treatment referral service for gamblers with serious addictions. Call 1-800-662-4357 or visit www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline.
Just as there are varying levels of severity with gambling addictions, various levels of support are available. Sometimes, all that’s required for someone struggling with mild problem gambling would be a support group. Still, there’s more advanced care with professional counselors and therapists who cater to people with crippling addictions.
Responsible Gambling FAQ
Check out some of the most common questions our readers have asked us about responsible gambling and gambling addictions.
How Common Is Gambling Addiction?
In the United States, it’s fair to say that around 1-2% of the population struggles with dark, crippling gambling addictions. Still, there aren’t many studies or extensive research with hard numbers to ultimately support this claim. It’s enough that many resources and organizations specialize in helping people overcome these struggles.
What Are the Negative Effects of Gambling?
Gambling addictions can ruin your life in more ways than one. It can destroy relationships with family and friends, ruin your finances, and tax your mental or emotional health. People with gambling addictions spend most of their free time gambling, which can cause loved ones to feel neglected. And out-of-control spending on a gambling addiction can lead to bankruptcy, losing your home, or unemployment.
Where Can I Get Help for a Gambling Addiction?
There are a ton of resources that help people with gambling addictions or those struggling with problem gambling. These include the Gamblers Anonymous 12-step program, the National Council on Problem Gambling (and their hotline network), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Gam-Anon helps support the loved ones of problem gamblers, and Gam-a-Teen helps the children of problem gamblers.
Should I Do an Intervention with My Friend or Family Member?
While interventions are typically successful in helping problem gamblers realize they need help, interventions rarely cause someone to change their behavior or overcome their addictions through sheer force of will. Interventions are recommended but are ultimately not the solution to the problem. Those with gambling addictions need to seek professional help.
What Are Warning Signs When Someone Has a Gambling Addiction?
You can usually tell when someone has a gambling addiction or problem because they’ll begin exhibiting the following behaviors: they ask for money to help pay bills or fund their gambling sessions, they spend all their free time gambling, and they lose interest in other hobbies or relationships, they get irritable whenever they cut back on gambling, etc.
How Can I Stop My Gambling Addiction?
It’s always good to see a professional counselor or therapist to get correctly diagnosed. They can determine how severe your addiction or problem may be. They might suggest only counseling, therapy, or a support group for gamblers with a firmer grasp of their habits. Still, they could offer medical treatment if they feel their addiction is rooted in something more serious, like depression.
What’s the Difference Between Problem Gambling and Compulsive Gambling?
Problem gamblers are in the beginning stages of a gambling addiction. They don’t appear to have a problem, and the warning signs are less noticeable. Their gambling habits might interfere with their relationships and finances, but they aren’t addicted to the point of compulsion. Compulsive gambling is where the gambler has little to no control over their impulse to gamble irresponsibly. They want to bet regardless of whether or not they are winning.
What Are Self-Exclusion Lists?
Gamblers can voluntarily add themselves to these lists, available on gambling websites, land-based casinos, retail sports books, and horse racing tracks. These places will keep you from entering when they see your name on the list. It’s a way for self-aware gamblers to hold themselves accountable for their actions. They can voluntarily add themselves to self-exclusion lists for periods as short as one to six months or as high as one to five years.
How Can I Cut Back on How Long I Gamble?
We recommend setting a gambling budget before you begin your session. You can only use this money to bet on nothing more. It keeps you from spending more than you should and should keep the length of your session to a minimum. Stick to your budget; you won’t waste time and money chasing losses.