Gambling is big business. Bookmakers and slot machine establishments are popping up on high Streets across the UK and online gambling has become even bigger business. The gambling industry is worth billions in the UK but what about the human cost?
Winning can be addictive
The feeling of winning can be addictive and produce chemicals in our brains that give us a happy feeling. Many of us can manage this ‘high’ feeling and don’t become addicted to gambling. However, many people run the risk of becoming addicted to gambling and the consequences can be huge for their lives and the lives of those around them. For these people it can also become increasingly difficult to know when to stop gambling.
There’s a lot of help available for a gambling addiction and many charities that are there to help, but the first step is recognising that there is a problem.
When does Gambling become a problem?
Look out for these five signs to give you an idea if gambling is becoming a potential issue for someone:
1. Gambling more than you can afford to lose
If you have a healthy relationship with gambling, you have a concept of what you can afford to lose. You would set yourself a budget and when you reach that budget, you would stop gambling.
This means you are always in control of the amount you can lose and you set limits of what you can afford to lose and you stick to them. If you don’t set limits, it’s easy to lose track of how much you have actually spent. Having fun can quickly turn to regret if you end up losing more money than you can afford and then find it hard to pay your bills.
2. Chasing losses
When someone suffers a big gambling loss they may try to ‘chase their losses’ and gamble more as a direct result of a loss. When a person feels that they need to redress that loss with a win, it can be a sign that their relationship with gambling is no longer healthy and that they are not setting limits on their spending. When limits disappear, spending can quickly get out of control.
Problem gamblers often fall into ‘mind traps’ which is used to describe thoughts that distort our view on something. For example, feeling as though you are ‘due a win’ if you have ploughed pounds into a fruit machine, which can encourage you to bet again. These mind traps distract the gambler from the fact that the chances of winning are always exactly the same as they were before.
3. Raise the money
One reason why gambling is so popular around the world is simply that winning makes us feels good. The dopamine produced in your brain, when you gamble, makes you feel better and this feeling can be very addictive.
Sometimes, if a person wants to increase the positive feeling of winning, they might try to raise the stakes and gamble more, in the hope of a bigger win and ultimately, a bigger high
However, chasing this positive emotional reaction, of course, comes with a much higher risk and can lead to the gambling amount growing bigger and bigger.
4. Theories on gambling
A big issue for many gamblers is the thought that they can outsmart the bookmakers, due to their sports knowledge and gambling experience. It is easy to think that, if you know a lot about a particular sport, then it’s possible to predict what will happen. However, the odds are always stacked against you, without question. Betting firms employ teams of analysts to set the odds to make it harder for people to win. They are a business and making money is their primary goal. No amount of studying can predict a sporting event happening or not happening, all bets are primarily based on luck, nothing more. Even those with the greatest knowledge and experience of sport and gambling, often get it wrong and this is where they can fall down, hard.
5. Hiding gambling activities
Do you find yourself gambling when nobody is around, or do you leave social groups to place a bet? Once you feel the need to gamble secretly, that could be a sign that your gambling is becoming a problem and it might be time to seek help. Gambling in secret is often done to avoid scrutiny, when in fact, scrutiny is what could save a person from developing a deeper problem. If you think you need help with your gambling then get in touch with Gamcare for confidential and non-judgemental help with Gambling
And remember, there is alot of help out there and Gamcare is just one charity, there are others ready to help on your journey x