The most popular form of gambling around the world has become gambling online. Gambling that’s available 24/7 anywhere and anytime has proved to be incredibly enticing to both experienced gamblers and newcomers. The result of this has been a flood of new online casinos in the past few years .
However these new online gambling sites need to realise that for moral reasons, and sustainability, there is an obligation to have measures in place to help problem gamblers – not take advantage of them. While most governments have gambling support organizations for counseling, without the individual online casinos on board with the same ethos, the problem is sure to become even rifer. The programs in place to prevent and curb compulsive gamblers are fighting a losing battle if betting sites don’t implement checks and balances.
Today we look at the argument of support groups and that of online casinos. We’ll also feature advice for anyone who feels that they may be a problem gambler and needed help.
The Online gambling addiction crisis
Most studies of online gambling addiction have taken place in the UK and the USA where it is recognised as an epidemic. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 100 people in the USA has a compulsive gambling addiction stemming from a mental disorder. Some experts put the figure possibly being even higher in the UK. All this adds up to a huge concern for the societal impact if the problems are neglected.
Exacerbating that worry is the fact that not only has gambling online become more accessible in recent years, but higher stakes have become available, increased advertising is present and game-play has become more convenient.
Why is gambling online so appealing to compulsive gamblers?
It’s speculated that online gambling has the highest level of addiction than all other types of gambling. The reason is probably two-fold – existing problem gamblers are enticed away from betting shops purely because of convenience. The second more concerning aspect is the exposure to gambling of newcomers with addictive traits or personalities.
In the quiet moments of these gamblers’ lives, the option to have a bet online is always there – just a click away. Wherever they are they can quickly have a spin or be. Accounts are almost instantly created after registering and healthy deposit bonuses sometimes given after an all too easy credit card deposit. While the government continues to tighten the regulations for land-based casinos, online ones remain largely unaffected by these changes. Within minutes one can register, deposit and start playing. There’s little doubt that this is immensely appealing to problem gamblers.
Privacy is another aspect which compounds compulsive gambling. Land-based casinos are bustling areas of activity where you’re always liable to bump into someone you know. Online casinos, however, offer a refuge for those seeking to conceal their gambling habits: Easier to enter, more game choices and no prying eyes. With the advent of Live Casinos at online sites, any advantage land-based casinos have had has largely dissipated.
Online casinos also have a harder time “policing” problem gamblers due to the vastness of their potential customer base. Most reputable online casinos will however eagerly ban compulsive gamblers as it’s in their best interests long term not to gain a reputation for aiding the problem.
Will online betting turn me into a compulsive gambler?
If you’ve gambled before and don’t have a loss of control issue, the odds are you’re safe. Whether in the real world or online, the epicentre of the problem is the mental health of the player. If you, however, have had past problems controlling your gambling in any form, you may find it even tougher to control the habit online.
For newcomers with underlying and unexposed issues, the danger of online gambling is touted as being the sheer convenience. Land-based casinos can be intimidating, with difficult to learn games and lots of distractions. Online gambling, however, has easy deposit methods and step-by-step instructions on each game. The argument is that by making it easier and more accessible, the epidemic will increase.
Any basic knowledge of gambling though and you’ll be quick to spot the flaw in this logic: Problem gamblers will get past any minor inconvenience, learning curve or obstacle in their way to have a bet – regardless of it’s land-based or online.
Shielding yourself from addiction when gambling online
Generally speaking, online casinos are a place where people go to have fun and possibly win massive amounts. The overwhelming majority of people only use expendable income and know when to stop. You shouldn’t be too worried if you haven’t exhibited any addictive traits in the past, but nevertheless it’s best to put some precautions in place just in case. Here are some suggestions on how to curb compulsive gambling from rearing its ugly head while you have fun betting online:
Make a gambling budget
Left unchecked, gambling can get costly, so make sure you examine your finances before wagering. If you’re struggling to make ends meet and have zero expendable income, then perhaps it’s best to wait for a time in your life when you have the funds to comfortably bet without fretting over losses.
Only bet with what you can afford to lose. Of course, you could have huge wins, but you could also lose the money you’ve put aside to gamble with. If this happens, can you carry on without major changes to your overall budget or cuts to lifestyle choices?
Staking of bet while gambling
What separates many happy gamblers from problem ones is their ability to stake their bets optimally. Never feel pushed into betting more than you want to risk while gambling online. You should never be obligated to betting more than you want to in an online bet. Work out how much you can afford to stake in each bet you make online and don’t be tempted to up that bet beyond what you can readily afford within your budget. Remember the smaller you bet, the more bets you can make for your budget, meaning the experience of the game lasts longer.
Prioritise your time when gambling
Nobody should want to all day in front of phone or computer screen gambling online. If you feel yourself desiring to do so, or end up whittling away endless hours while neglecting duties then you clearly have a problem. Budget your time, as you would budget your funds – after all each is a precious commodity. Make sure that work, family and friends aren’t but on the backburner in favour of online gambling.
Discipline while gambling online
Be in touch with your activities and emotions. If you feel like you’re betting too big, or spending too much time with gambling online, then try step back and take a break. If you’re able to do this without the constant urge to have a wager, then odds are you’re in control of your gambling online. A compulsive gambler will struggle to stick to a hiatus form gambling.
Warning signs when gambling online
Keep an eye out for these indicators that would point to you or a close friend or family member having an online gambling addiction:
Friends or family tell you that there is a problem. If people are noticing online gambling (the majority of which is hidden) then the chances are that their suspicions are well-founded – even if you don’t see it yourself..
Financial issues: Running short of funds for groceries, rent or hobbies? Then its time to keep a closer track on your wins or losses and ease up on your online gambling. If you just can’t do it, then admit to yourself that there is a problem.
You start lying to friends and family frequently about the size of your wins or losses. You also lie or make excuses about missing commitments, whether they be time based or financial.
Work and personal life spiral downhill as a direct result of your online gambling time and wins or losses. If you take a mental snapshot of where these began before your online gambling and see a deterioration, then stop and reassess your priorities.
How to find help if you have a gambling problem
If you genuinely suspect you have a compulsive gambling addiction then now is the time to take action. Each government around the world has resources waiting to be utilized to aid you in recovery:
The UK, for example, has Gamecare (http://www.gamcare.org.uk/) which provides a host of tools for self-assessment and treatment.
Other useful programs include self-exclusion programs to which most reputable online casinos and bookmakers subscribe. One of the most powerful of theses is Integrity (http://integrity.aristotle.com ). Once you add your name to the Integrity self-exclusion list most online betting sites will not allow you to open an account or continue betting.
Check-in your local community churches and municipalities for counselling programs for addiction. Sometimes the simplest way is an online search, which very often yields area-specific resources that can help you face this challenge with help.
Are online casinos and bookmakers trying to help?
Trustworthy online betting sites want to prevent their players from form becoming compulsive gamblers. Sure, there can be a fine line between a loyal player and a problem gambler and sometimes these can be tough to spot. But online casinos and bookmakers know that the bad press garnered from allowing problem gamblers to run rife on their site far outweighs any temporary profits. In the long-run negative publicity can be the downfall of any online casino or bookmaker.
Online betting sites should never encourage you to gamble more than hat you can afford. They should also be fully licenced and have responsible gambling guidelines in place. If you feel that they are not “towing the line”, then make sure to report them to the relevant authorities – you would be helping countless problem gamblers.