For some people, gambling can be an innocent flutter, a bet on who’s going to win the World Cup or the odd EuroMillions ticket. For others, it can become problematic.
If you’re gambling, it’s usually a good idea to keep track of how it affects you and your day-to-day life. Some of the things you might want to think about are:
- Does gambling cause you to argue with friends or family
- Do you avoid telling people how much money you are spending when you gamble?
- Do you gamble until you run out of money?
- Are you getting into debt?
- Are you having to give up other things to find money for gambling?
- Have you thought about stealing to gamble?+
If you have answered yes to some of these questions, you might want to think about how to get a hold on your gambling.
What is compulsive gambling?
When a person cannot control their gambling, it’s know as ‘compulsive’ or ‘pathological’ gambling. This is a continual need to gamble and is recognised as a mental disorder.
Times of stress are known to increase compulsive gambling behaviour. It can lead to disrupted family relationships, inattention to work, financial crises and criminal activity in order to obtain money.
Managing your gambling
Depending on how tough you’re finding it to manage your gambling, it can be a good idea to get support from a professional or from an organisation there to help.
Gambling effects lots of people so you’re not alone. For some people, there can also be ways to manage it on your own.
Some people gamble as a way of reducing boredom. It might help to look at other things you can do instead. Finding other ways you can relax and have fun can make a big difference.
Join a team, watch movies, volunteer somewhere or hang out with your friends more. Do whatever keeps you busy.
Keep a record
It can help to keep a record of how much money you’re gambling and whether you won or lost. Sometimes seeing it written down makes it easier to see how much you’re spending.
If you’re telling yourself that this bet will be the winner, looking at your record of winning and losing can be a reality check.
Set a limit
Only use an amount you can afford to lose. That may mean only having 20 quid in your wallet when you go out to gamble. This is harder if you’re doing it online, but setting yourself a limit of how much you’ve got to spend can still be effective.
Talking to someone
If you’re finding your gambling is interfering with day-to-day life, talk to a counsellor.
You could ask friends, your doctor, local community health centre or a youth worker if they can recommend anyone.
Self-help groups are made up of people affected by gambling. The group is run primarily by members of the group instead of a professional. Gamblers Anonymous is a good example. For more information it may be helpful to talk with your local doctor or counsellor if this option would work for you.
Are you affected by someone’s gambling problem?
It can be useful to seek help and advice if someone’s gambling problem is impacting on your life. You may feel overly anxious or protective of the person with a problem or their behaviour towards you may be threatening or violent.
A counsellor, doctor or youth worker are people who may be able to help you. Check out face-to-face help for more information about how they can help. You can find a mental health professional through the Irish counselling directory.
What are the odds?
Gambling is about taking a risk. Often the more money offered the greater the risk. Most gambling opportunities are set up to favour the game or bookmaker rather than the person taking the gamble.
Remember, it is the business of advertising and promotions to make the opportunity sound more achievable than it is. Winning is exciting and it’s not hard to start thinking that if you gamble often enough more wins will follow. This may be the case, but you’re also increasing your chances of losing more money.