Please Play Responsibly!
Sports gambling is a high-risk activity and is not for everyone. Research and planning mean nothing in the face of simple bad luck. Gains, losses, ups, and downs in gambling are a simple fact of life.
Many people gamble as a hobby without difficulty. By controlling the amount of money and time spent on it, gamblers keep their activities from affecting other areas of their life.
Others, though, find that the rush and pleasure they get from gambling makes it hard to know when to stop. They find they are betting more than they should, and they start to rely on a future “big win” to make up for present losses.
When this behavior becomes a pattern for any length of time, that person is at risk of becoming a compulsive gambler.
A compulsive gambler is a person whose gambling has caused continuing problems in their life. Some of the warning signals include:
- An inability to stop gambling, whether winning or losing
- Constant vows to abstain
- Impatience with loved ones
- Fantasies of “this week's win” to overcome “last week's loss”
- Neglecting responsibilities to concentrate on gambling
- Mood swings
- Lack of interest in social situations
It can be easy for people to get swept up in the excitement and suspense of sports. What's vital, though, is to step back from time to time and look at what you're doing and where you stand. Track your own behavior. Better yet, ask a loved one for their input. One of the hallmarks of addiction is a denial of the problem. If you are defensive when confronted about your gambling habits, that can be a dangerous sign. If someone is telling you that you have a gambling problem, chances are you do.
Don't think you do? Prove it. Take a piece of paper and write it all down for them. Include what you've spent, what you've won, what you've lost, and how you've budgeted for what you've lost. Be honest with them and be honest with yourself. Is the time or money you are spending on gambling taking away from other areas of your life? Do you feel that you can't stop until you make up your losses? Are you saying things like, "I can stop anytime?” If any of these things are happening, it's time to take control.
If you are in control of your gambling, the test should show it.
Suffering from gambling addiction is nothing of which to be ashamed. Some people are more vulnerable to addictive behavior than others. In the same way, some people are more prone to depression. In fact, recognizing that you have a problem and taking steps to deal with it are things to be proud of.
You should speak to a doctor or a community health organization if you believe you're becoming a compulsive gambler. They can help you find the help you need. If you prefer, another good idea is to contact your local chapter of Gamblers Anonymous. If you don't know where the nearest chapter is, check their web page: https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.
Remember: You can't win if you're not in control.
Self-exclusion is a way to press pause if you feel like you need a break from gambling. You can do this by banning yourself from casinos, gaming properties, and online gaming apps. Self-exclusion programs are run on a state-by-state basis and can usually be found on a state government’s website.
The following resources can help if you believe you are suffering from a gambling addiction:
National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)
The National Council on Problem Gambling's purpose is to assist those affected by problem gambling. Their vision is to improve health and wellness by reducing the personal, social, and economic costs of problem gambling.
International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG)
The International Center for Responsible Gaming is a nonprofit organization. They are devoted to researching gambling addiction, youth gambling, and finding effective methods of treatment.
Gamblers Anonymous is an international fellowship. Members share their experiences so they can solve the problems compulsive gambling has created in their lives. They also want to help others recover from the addiction of compulsive gambling.
Gambling Therapy is a global service. They offer free, practical advice and emotional support to anyone affected by problem gambling.
The legal age for gambling in most states is 21, although it is 18 in a few states.