Sports betting, online gambling, anything that involves staking your money, can be exciting. But that brief adrenaline rush often might come at a price.
Gambling online is often perceived as a recreational hobby, something fun you do on the side. Gamblers and bettor thread a very thin line. Crossing it is actually easy, and from having fun, things might suddenly spiral out of control.
Regardless of your age, gender, background, and financial status, anyone is at risk of developing a gambling addiction. Some are more vulnerable to developing compulsive gambling than others. That’s a problem recognized by regulators, betting providers, local authorities, and generally anyone involved in the industry.
People having those problems are rarely aware of them and become aware only when it’s too late. They feel the uncontrollable urge to constantly bet and gamble, regardless of the consequences, always harmful.
Let’s see who are the most vulnerable individuals and why?
- Addiction Runs In Your Family – if you have a family history of addiction and specifically – compulsive betting and gambling, you are considered a vulnerable player and should be very cautious.
- You’re Blinded by the Hype – gambling is often associated with glamor and luxury, and big wins that can give you that lifestyle. That’s an outlying case, don’t start gambling with the idea you’ll get rich.
- Difficult Financial Situation – the way betting and gambling position themselves makes people believe it can solve all of their financial difficulties if they only score that one big win. But before you score it, if at all, you might generate huge losses.
- You’re Bored with Limited Social Contacts – betting and gambling turn into a compulsion when they’re used to substitute real-life interactions, and are used as a primary source of entertainment.
- You’re a Thrill-Seeker – risk-takers are extremely vulnerable and ready to chase losses, increase their bets constantly, and never quit while they are ahead.
Early Warning Signs
If you think you or someone close to you might be a vulnerable player, you need to be honest with yourself and help them be honest with themselves. That’s challenging to achieve, but you can look out for some early warning signs to act on before things spiral out of control.
- Inability to respond calmly to feedback about your gambling.
- Hiding from your family and friends, keeping your gambling activities a secret.
- An Inclination for conflicts, annoyance, when you’re not betting.
- Inability to quit while you’re ahead, feeling compelled to bet until you’ve exhausted your money.
- Chasing losses, hoping to recover money to get yourself out of a financial bind, instead of taking a step back and cooling off from a loss.
- Spending excessive amounts of time gambling or placing more bets than you actually care about.
- Dropping other hobbies and limiting social contacts further to spend time gambling and betting.
- Gambling on credit to afford larger bets.
- Borrowing money from your friends and family to continue gambling.
- Neglecting financial responsibilities like paying bills and credits, and prioritizing spending on bets.
These are quite clear early warning signs that can indicate a player’s becoming vulnerable, and addiction might be established. If you notice them about yourself or some close to you, don’t hesitate to seek help! Gambling addiction is not a taboo, and it’s a very real thing! Most people think they can stop before it’s too late, but very few actually do.
What Can You Do?
As we said, people are often oblivious to their vulnerable situation. The best thing you can do at the start is to realize no one’s insured against developing a gambling addiction. Once you do that and if you start recognizing the problem, there’s a lot you can do before things slip out of control.
Track Spending & Prioritize
Always hold yourself accountable for the money you spend on gambling and betting activities. Never prioritize gambling money over your bills and other financial responsibilities. You can track your bets through your bookmaker’s account.
In case you’re betting through more than one bookmaker website, create your own diary. Get a good visual of your spending and your profit/loss ratios. Make it a rule not to gamble on credit and always pay your debts before you make bets.
Learn to Walk Away
Don’t chase losses. Money from gambling and betting piles when you grind small bets for small payouts and wins, and never bet more than you can afford to lose. Huge losses and big wins alike can affect punters emotionally. When one or the other happen, and they will happen at some point, take a step back, let yourself cool down before you place your next bet.
Set Yourself Limits
Betting and gambling accounts provide you with various tools that can help you set a deposit limit, daily spending limits, and so on. Use those tools to limit yourself to avoid burning through your bankroll.
The same goes for your bank account. If you’re in the UK, for example, you can contact your bank directly and request transactions to gaming and betting operators be blocked for a certain period of time.
Take Time Off
The surest way you’ll quit gambling and betting for a while is not simply blocking your gambling accounts, but self-exclusion. Self-exclusion can last anywhere from six months to five years. Your accounts will be immediately closed and won’t be reactivated, under no circumstances, for the period you’ve chosen for your self-exclusion, and you’ll be refused access at land-based venues as well.
You can self-exclude using the help of services like GamStop. These types of services aggregate your information and licensed gambling and betting operators can cross-reference it and prevent you from opening a new account while your self-exclusion period lasts.
If you feel like you don’t need to take such drastic steps, you can use your gambling sites’ tools to temporarily restrict your account for a shorter period – from 24 hours up to a month, for example.
Receiving Professional Help
Seeking professional help is something you should always do if you feel like you’re spiraling and think you might be a vulnerable player. Institutions like GamCare, BeGambleAware, and Gamblers Anonymous provide assistance, guidance, professional help, and support for vulnerable players who seek their help.
Help is readily available round-the-clock and at the tip of your fingers. The most important and bravest step to make is to ask for it.
Being a Responsible Gambler
The exhilaration, adrenaline, and fun that come with gambling and betting online can truly fuel punters. Especially when Lady Luck is on their side. But when the tables turn, and they often do, the consequences are harmful and devastating.
For your own safety and the sake of those closest to you, never hesitate to seek help!