According to the UK Gambling Commission, 0.5% of people aged 16 and above are problem gamblers. The figures mean that over 65,000 Brits are battling an unhealthy relationship with gambling – whether it’s affecting their relationships, harming their mental health, or driving them into debt.
Problem gambling is already a big issue in the United Kingdom. But it could get a lot worse. Studies have shown there are around 550,000 people whose current habits place them at ‘moderate risk’ of becoming problem gamblers in the future.
If you think you could be one of them and want to prevent this problem behaviour, you’re in the right place. The good news is there are ways to tackle problem gambling before it takes over your life.
In this blog post, we’ll explain how you can identify the warning signs of gambling addiction and put a stop to it once and for all.
What Exactly Is Problem Gambling?
Identifying problem gambling can be complicated. There’s no fixed threshold for what constitutes ‘a problem.’ On their website, the Royal College of Psychiatrists defines problem gambling as any gambling habit that disrupts someone’s personal, family, or recreational pursuits.
It’s worth noting that problem gambling isn’t always the same as an addiction. Gambling addicts feel compelled to place bets and often have little to no control over their urges. It can lead them to spend hours at online casinos every day.
Problem gamblers, on the other hand, can be more challenging to spot. For example, somebody might place a large sports bet every week despite never making a profit. The losses will add up, but it’s not necessarily a compulsion that they cannot control.
Problem gambling can quickly become an addiction without appropriate monitoring.
How Can You Identify Problem Gambling?
Whether you’re worried about your behaviour or that of a loved one, the first step towards tackling problem gambling is identifying the issue. From time to time, many people enjoy betting on their favourite sport or playing online slots. So how can you tell the difference between a harmless hobby and a dangerous habit?
Below, we’ve outlined some of the main warning signs that somebody is a problem gambler.
1. It’s Affecting Your Relationships
As the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ definition shows, a gambling habit has become problematic if it starts to affect your relationships. There are various ways in which this can happen.
Perhaps you and your partner are saving up for a new car, and they resent the amount of money you’re wagering. Or maybe you’re spending less time with your friends and family in favour of visiting online casinos. All these signs are indications of a deeper issue.
2. You’re Hiding the Extent of the Problem
Evasive behaviour can be another indication that your gambling is getting out of hand. Examples of this could include:
- You lie to your family about how often you gamble.
- You lie about how much money you’re spending.
- You hide any purchases you made using betting profits.
- You regularly clear your search history on your devices.
3. You’re Determined to Win Back Losses
The nature of most gambling games means you’re far more likely to lose money than make a profit. If you repeatedly place bets to try to win back an amount of money you’ve lost, this could be a sign that your behaviour has become unhealthy.
How To Tackle Problem Gambling
Although problem gambling can be incredibly distressing, it’s not a lost cause. By taking some simple steps, you can take control of the issue and get the help you need today.
1. Set Timers
Suppose you want to limit your gambling but not stop completely. Set 10-minute timers when you play. Bricks-and-mortar casinos often don’t have clocks on the walls because they know that the longer their customers gamble, the more money they will spend. But if you gamble online at home, you can control your behaviour.
By setting a timer, you can stop yourself from becoming too engrossed and keep tabs on the amount of time you’re spending.
2. Use a Blocking Software
For some online gamblers, stopping completely is the only way to prevent the problem from getting worse. Installing a gambling blocker on your devices ensures you don’t visit betting sites – particularly if you don’t have enough self-control to resist the urge by yourself.
3. Register for a Self-Exclusion Scheme
Schemes such as GamStop enable you to restrict your online gambling. By registering your details, you’ll have automatic bars in place from licensed betting websites for either six months, one year, or five years.
4. Tell Your Friends and Family
The stigma around betting can prevent people from speaking about their problems. But having the support of family and friends can make it much easier to kick your gambling habit. If you can, explain your situation to somebody you trust. They may be able to help keep you accountable for your actions.
Are you worried about problem gambling? With these straightforward steps, you can identify the issue and start tackling it today.