Spot the signs of Problem Gambling
Signs of Problem Gambling
- Gambling beyond one’s means
- Not being able to pay bills due to gambling losses
- Staying home from work to play at an online casino or betting site
- Feeling frustrated on days when one isn’t gambling
- A constant need to increase the amount of money used to gamble to reach the same levels of fulfilment and excitement
- The feeling of chasing losses, trying to win back the money that has been lost as soon as possible.
- Gambling in order to escape from unpleasantries or stress of life
- Failed attempts to stop gambling in the past
- The feeling of anger or frustration when reducing the gambling budget
- Trying to win back lost money by increasing the size or frequency of the wagers
- Lying about the amount of money or time that is spent gambling
- Hiding one’s gambling from significant others
- Being careless about the well-being of your family
- Putting gambling above one’s family, friends or other interests
- Lying, borrowing, stealing or committing fraud to get money to gamble
- Being reluctant to spend ‘gambling money’ on anything else
- Gambling has ruined a personal relationship or an occupational or educational opportunity
- Arguments, frustrations or disappointments create the need to gamble more
- Depressive or even suicidal feelings during or after gambling
What is Problem Gambling?
“Problem gambling is defined as behaviour related to gambling which causes harm to the gambler and those around them. This may include family, friends and others who know them or care for them.”.
This is a very broad quote. The harm can be of any kind; physical, mental, financial. It also recognises that both the behaviours associated with problem gambling and harmful outcomes can be multifaceted and complicated in many cases. They are also not limited to the player alone.
Let’s look at some examples of problem gambling in real players to clarify:
- Paul spends his rent money gambling, he is causing himself harm as he is betting with money he cannot afford to lose, potentially making his, and his family’s housing situation precarious. The stress if Paul loses his rent money and debt may also cause financial and mental harm. Paul is classified as a problem gambler and needs to reach out to his casino and outside support services to immediate assistance.
- Jess likes to gamble, usually she does it whilst sober and sticks to her predetermined limits. However, every now and again, she’ll sit down to play after one drink too many, and find it hard to stop. She plays over budget, but is still within the amount she can afford to gamble (she is not spending money that is already ear-marked for a purpose like food or rent). Although this is not a common occurrence, Jess is at high-risk or problem gambling. She gambles after drinking which impairs judgement, goes over budget, and finds it hard to stop. Whilst this behaviour is currently infrequent, it is at high-risk of escalating. Jess should affect deposit limits and time limits to her casino account and take regular self- assessment. She should also stop gambling after drinking and may also benefit from using online help services.
You should always be able to remain in control of your gambling and only ever bet what you can afford, not chasing losses or gambling when emotional (BeGambleAware, 2019).
Which steps to take to help yourself or others in case of problem gambling
More recently, problem gambling has become a bit of a hot topic in the UK, receiving a lot of attention from the media, the UKGC, prominent research bodies and NGOs. If you’re not up to date on what responsible gambling is, the responsible gambling measures you can access to monitor and limit your gaming behaviours, and where you can get support then keep reading as we’ll cover it all right here.
- Be honest / communicate you need help
- Use provided responsible gambling tools to prevent yourself from gambling further
- Confide in someone you can trust
- Contact support lines
- Look for solutions first rather than dwelling in the past
- Set up payment plans in case of debt
- In extreme cases, self-exclude through GamSTOP
- Accept that addiction is part of being human and you are not to blame
Signs of someone else struggling with problem gambling
ISOLATION / LOSS OF CONTACT
Responsible Gambling Tools and Helplines
How to prevent a gambling addiction
- Avoid using gambling as a means of income
- Gambling is a recreational pastime, nothing more
- Never gamble as a means to escape problems
- Do not chase losses
- Play only when sober
- Know the dangers of gambling addiction
- Be aware of one’s medical history / previous addictions / poor mental health
How Many People in the UK Struggling with Problem Gambling?
According to recent gambling data collected by the UKGC, National Health Survey and NatCen, over 50% of the UK population are gamblers (meaning they have participated in gambling in the last 12 months, UKGC). Problem gamblimg can be broken down into risk categories and estimates for the UK (based on survey data) are as follows;
- 4% of the population are low-risk gamblers
- a further 1.1% are moderate-risk gamblers
- and 0.7% of the UK’s total adult population are problem gamblers
In actual figures rather than statistics The Guardian (Davis, 2017) reported this as over 2 million people in the UK are affected by some form of problem gambling, with over 400,000 reported as having a serious habit.
Did you know: More men than women gamble, and in every risk category, the amount of male problem gamblers or at-risk gamblers is much higher than female (disproportionately so), but across both genders, those aged 24-36 are most vulnerable to problem gambling (UKGC, 2019a).
How Do Casinos and The UKGC Protect Players?
Despite responsible and problem gambling being on the cards and licencing conditions for casinos, it is still a huge concern affecting large amounts of the UK population. The UK Gambling Commission, who is in charge of all research, legislation and regulation for the UK gambling market was established in 2005 (although much legislation came before, there was no specialised government body in charge).
The UKGC sets out the core casino responsibilities to players, which include, but are not limited to:
- Transparency and fairness in gaming and outcomes.
- Protection of data and privacy.
- Protection of funds.
- Operator accountability.
- And protection from harm.
Again, protection from harm is a very broad category, and it is here that responsible gambling belongs with the UKGC stipulating what tools, measures, support and information casinos must provide on problem gambling.
This is laid out in guidelines, called the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCPs), which all casinos who are licenced by the UKGC are bound to meet, and audited upon along with other criteria. Therefore, it is the casinos who are charged with the larger part of player protection, as they are the party offering the service and held accountable for breaching the LCCPs.
The LCCP is a living document and allows the UKGC to update and change the conditions and code as and when they feel it is required meaning they can be quick to act to market changes and penalize those casinos who fall short on informing or protecting their players.
Recently, there have been some prominent examples of this in action:
In 2018, The Gambling Commission and Advertising Standards Authority came together to overhaul of the conditions under which casinos can advertise their products. They updated the marketing area of the LCCPS to address and tackle misleading terms, how advertisements are placed, what they can contain, the types of messages they send- ie they should not be irresponsibly promoting gambling and much more.
However, from the figures we presented to you earlier, it’s obvious that problem is still an issue for a lot of players, and in fact, many do not know the tools available to them at the casino to help monitor and limits gambling behaviours.
There has also been a greater focus on the relationship between problem gambling and mental health. Using data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2007), the UKGC found that “5% of problem gamblers had attempted suicide in the previous year and that 5% of people who had attempted suicide in the previous year were problem gamblers” (UKGC, 2019b).
In response, this spurred the UKGC to design and launch in April 2019, The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. This 3-year strategy aims to bring a lasting impact to the reduction of gambling harm by bringing together the UKGC and Charities, continuing research and regulation and helping to raise awareness, treat and support problem gamblers.
Responsible Gambling Campaigns By Casinos
Play Safe and Know When to Stop
Responsible gambling is about knowing when to stop and being in control of how you gamble. Every player who gambles should be using the responsible gambling tools provided by casinos to monitor how they pay and play and be aware of the risk they expose themselves to. You can find some top tips for staying in control of your betting behaviour here and remember, when the fun stops, STOP!