Gambling, and especially online gambling, is quite risky entertainment. Sure, there's an opportunity to earn a good deal of money by simply playing cards, but in the long run the house always wins.
So, here's our first statement: Casinos can't be profitable for persistent players unless they're geniuses or extremely lucky men. People believe that they are unique and they can always win. Clinging to this belief may result in addiction usually, gamblers appreciate financial risks, but overlook mental ones.
A path to online gambling addiction
While brick-and-mortar casinos are risky, websites are twice as much. The main reason is that online gamblers can choose almost any game and play it right from the comfort of their homes. It's way easier to launch a casino app on your phone then find a land-based casino, especially in countries with strict gambling regulation.
Here are the main reasons, why online gambling involves a higher risk of addiction:
- Online casinos work 24/7 and are available from any place with Internet access;
- Playing from home is convenient and does not involve additional expenses;
- Online transactions are fast and anonymous, especially in crypto casinos;
- Underage gambling is less controlled - youngsters can participate freely;
- Online casinos are more widespread as they are available everywhere.
Dr. Martin Hsia, a clinical psychologist from California, claims that gambling isn't a problem when it's for recreation only. Indeed, some gamblers can control their activity. They play once in a while during vacations or holidays and never risk more than they can afford to lose. But when occasional amusements turn into addictive hobby, problems crop up.
Signs of compulsive gambling
When it comes to addictions, signs are always similar. Explore them to be able to recognize a compulsive gambler:
- Gambling takes more time than any other activity.
- Gamblers trim their schedule to play even when they normally can't.
- Bets become higher and regular.
- Stress and daily routine force to gamble more.
- Emotions bounce depending on the game results.
- Gamblers may hide or steal money from family or friends.
Realizing these threats is the key to resisting them. If one plans and manages gambling time and bets, the addiction is less likely to arise. However, in most cases it's really difficult to recognize that you have a gambling problem and might need appropriate treatment. Compulsive gamblers become obsessed with the idea of winning and start living a so-called double life. They ignore families and jobs, and are getting more emotionally detached.
Negative effects of gambling
Mostly, negative consequences of gambling relate to psychological health but there are also adverse effects on physical state. Compulsive gamblers suffer from anxiety, depression, and are at risk of suicidal behaviors. Huge losses may even cause mental affection.
Negative social consequences are inevitable as well. Online gambling addicts fall out with relatives and colleagues, lose jobs and money. The main thing is that gamblers focus on the game, they can't allocate time for other activities.
What's worse, problem gambling may result in other addictions. Players try to fight a despair caused by losses with alcohol and drugs, which prove to be even more dangerous for physical health. So, harmless blackjack or slots may result in the ruined life.
Needless to say that it is worth turning to providers that are compliant with responsible gambling principles and rules to ensure safe user experience. But online casinos rarely follow such principles due to high anonymity of services.
5 steps to deal with addiction
Only 0.1% of all population are gambling addicts, as Dr. Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University claims. However, it's really important to know how you can assist yourself or your loved one in fighting online gambling addiction.
1) Admit to the problem. Probably, it's the hardest step even if the gambler suffers from substantial financial losses or deterioration of relations with close friends. According to Dr. Martin Hsia, sometimes there's just no other choice but stop gambling.
2) Confide in your nearest and dearest. The next step is to find support. Gamblers also need to gain the backing of the relatives, as more often than not, addicted people may not recognize their addiction.
3) Block access to online casinos. Once you admitted to the problem and realized you need treatment, the next step to take is restrict access to all gambling-related websites. Deactivate your online casino accounts, block your credit cards and even restrict gambling ads in the browser.
4) Manage your finances. Calculation of expenses is the key to progress. Simple notes about gains and losses will clearly show the problem. It might be difficult to maintain your budget without help, so the best way is to entitle a trusted person to control your bank accounts and supervise your expenditures.
5) Stay busy. To get out of gambling it's essential to turn your mind to other things and activities that are not related to your addiction. Be occupied with work, spend more time with family and friends, and go in for sports or travels.
These steps are provided by Liz Karter, an addiction therapist and expert in problem gambling. Obviously, these measures do not preclude the necessity of professional help and will be of much help in the initial phase of addiction. To avoid negative consequences of online gambling, consider all possible risks and threats before making your first ever bet. Play safe!