Gambling and specifically sports betting have been around for many years. While it is impossible to trace back to the first bet ever placed, the ancient Greeks often bet amongst themselves during sporting events. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the first professional bookmakers started to operate in the United Kingdom. This was perhaps the first significant step towards gambling as we know it today, but arguably the most important and meaningful change in the gambling industry was the introduction of the internet.
The creation of online bookmakers meant it was easy for anyone with a computer and internet connection to place a bet or play a casino game. At first, online bookmakers and casinos offered a small range of sporting events and games, but this has increased significantly over the years. Now it is possible to bet on a vast array of sports from across the world.
However, as a result of this, it has become easier than ever to develop a gambling addiction. The question is, how do you know if you have a gambling addiction, and if you do, how can you control it?
It is not always easy to identify a gambling addiction. Someone who places a bet regularly in comparison to someone who bets infrequently does not necessarily have a gambling addiction, and it could just as easily be the latter who has a problem. Gambling is an issue if it causes the person placing the bet a problem, regardless of how frequent or infrequent the bets are placed. So, when trying to identify gambling addiction, the number of bets being set is not always a great indicator.
This makes identifying gambling addiction even more difficult, but there are specific signs you can look out for when trying to recognise the problem. The first place to look is the potential causes of gambling addiction. These can include the desperate need for money, the search for a thrill or a high, a way to relieve/forget about other problems in life and the need to be recognised as being successful at something with friends. The financial aspect is perhaps the most common cause of gambling addiction and can lead to increased and uncontrolled betting when chasing losses.
The signs of a gambling problem are often the same as the signs of any other issue in life. Addicted gamblers often wish to try and keep their gambling habits a secret. This can often lead to lying to family and friends about your activities. Something as simple as saying ‘I am just going on the computer to check my email’ when in fact you are going on to gamble, is a secure sign of gambling addiction. The more secretive you become about gambling, the more likely it is you have a problem.
Other signs for gambling addiction include gambling when you cannot afford to lose money. This is linked to the potential causes of gambling addiction highlighted above but involves gambling when you do not have funds available. This does not necessarily mean you do not have any money, but it could be the money you are using for gambling is required for something else in your life, such as paying bills, the mortgage or to spend with your family. If you have to turn to a loan to fund a gambling habit then, unfortunately, you could have a severe gambling addiction, and it is time to do something about it quickly.
Before we move on to some of the options available to you if you believe you have a gambling addiction, let’s take a look at some of the potential symptoms of a gambling problem. Many of the signs above are not always easy to spot, primarily if the gambling addiction is affecting a friend or family member.
Emotional symptoms of a gambling problem can be one of the best ways of highlighting an issue with betting. Increased anxiety, depression and even self-harming are all potential signs of a gambling problem. While these are not always easy to identify, and it can be challenging to approach someone you feel may be suffering from any of these symptoms, it is essential to try and sensitively approach the matter.
Being able to identify a gambling addiction is a massive step in the right direction to solving the problem. Overcoming a gambling addiction is not easy, but thankfully, there are things you can do, which will help.
Some people turn to gamble simply because they are bored, isolated or looking to forget. If this is the case, there are other ways to manage boredom, isolation or painful memories. Joining a local exercise club, going out with friends who do not gamble, starting a new hobby, volunteering for a good cause and taking up yoga or meditation are all excellent available options.
If you or a friend are battling a gambling addiction, it is never easy to do so alone. Having a good support network is very important, so there is always a turn to someone when you need to, especially if you feel the need to continue gambling. Joining a group is another excellent way of overcoming or preventing gambling addiction. You may find there are local groups such as Gamblers Anonymous which you can attend. Here you can meet other people who have been in the same position and overcome their addiction who can guide and help you to do the same.
There are also organisations you can speak to online which have been created with a gambling addiction in mind. GamCare is an excellent example, and if you feel you have a problem, you can head to their website and begin speaking to someone immediately using their live chat feature. It is also possible to talk to somebody on the phone or join in live chat group where you can speak with other gamblers and support team members in a friendly environment.
The most important thing to remember if you believe you may have a gambling addiction is that you are never alone. There is always someone out there willing to help, but you must take the first step. Here is a good link to gambling aware