Online gambling for most people is a whole lot of fun, a rollercoaster of thrills and spills which offers excitement and enjoyment in equal measure. However, for some individuals gambling can turn into an addiction and become a real problem. How can you tell whether you are developing a problem with gambling which could start to negatively affect your life? We look at some of the warning signs which may reveal a potential problem with gambling which needs to be addressed.
So how can you tell whether you are a problem gambler?
There are a few warning signs to look out for, and we will take a closer look at these to help you to identify whether you, or somebody you know, may have a problem with gambling. One of the first red flags to look out for is to consider whether gambling is taking up too much of your time. Are you thinking about gambling when you should be doing other things? If you are sitting at your desk in the office thinking about the next opportunity you will get to gamble online then this could be a potential problem. Everybody enjoys a flutter on the big sporting event that is taking place, a couple of hands of roulette or a favourite slot game. However, when these activities start to take a more prominent place in your life it may be time for a change.
Let’s take a look at 10 warning signs that may indicate that you or someone you are close to is a problem gambler:
1. Borrowing money
Somebody who is borrowing money and spending it without seeming to accumulate any possessions could potentially be a problem gambler. Spending borrowed money on gambling is definitely a sign that something is amiss. If you find yourself using a credit card or a loan to fuel your online gambling then you need to take a step back and look at the situation. Gambling should be a form of entertainment, but if you are taking out loans to fund this activity then there is a problem.
A person who lies to friends, family or colleagues about the extent of their gambling may have an issue. Lying about whether you are gambling or not, or the amount of money you are spending on this past-time are certainly potential indicators of a problem. People don’t generally lie about things unless they are ashamed of them.
3. Chasing losses
The biggest mistake a gambler can make is to throw good money after bad. Chasing losses is something that can afflict many gamblers, but it is never a good idea. Somebody who is in control of their gambling can shrug their shoulders and walk away after a losing bet. However, someone who has a problem with gambling may decide that they cannot accept their loss and must try to recoup their money. Sometimes this will work, but more often than not it results in losses being multiplied rather than cancelled out.
4. Gambling money you can’t afford
Gambling is an activity which should only be pursued with money that you can afford. Risking cash that is needed for basics like food, petrol, rent or other staples is a definite red flag. Betting ceases to become fun and starts to be a problem when it begins to affect your financial stability.
5. Becoming withdrawn
One sign to look out for is when a normally outgoing and friendly person starts to become withdrawn. If your friend or family member starts to turn down social occasions without a good reason then it could be a sign that something is wrong. Spending time alone at a computer to indulge in online gambling is not a good thing if it comes at the expense of being with friends or family members.
6. Personality changes
Similar to the point mentioned above, changes of personality can be an indicator that someone has a gambling problem. Gambling money that cannot be afforded can result in increased levels of stress and worry or even depression, which are all warning signs.
7. Stealing to gamble
While borrowing money to fund a gambling habit is a very worrying sign, even worse are those people who resort to theft to be able to keep on making bets. There have been a number of high profile cases over the years where people have felt in such a desperate situation that they have stolen money in order to fund their habit, believing that they were just one win away from solving all of their problems. However, stories like this never tend to have a happy ending.
8. Gambling to forget
Turning to gambling can be a way of blocking out other issues that are going on in a person’s life. Problems in relationships or at work can be put to one side when somebody is engrossed in the spinning reels of a slot game or watching the cards be laid out in a high-stakes game of blackjack. In cases like this gambling is just a refuge from another problem, but it is never a solution.
9. Being unable to stop gambling
Have you tried to give up a gambling habit, only to find yourself back at a favourite online casino or bookmakers? This could be a sign that gambling has become less of a hobby and more of an addiction. Use the measures which allow gamblers to restrict themselves from online gambling sites by self-excluding and this can go some way towards freeing yourself of an addiction.
One of the most important things to do when trying to confront a gambling problem is to admit that the problem exists in the first place. Denying a gambling issue and then continuing to display some or all of the behaviours above is a failure to confront the problem head on. The first step on the road to recover is admitting that you have a problem in the first place.