Are you worried that you may be developing a gambling problem? It’s a common problem, and, if it’s not dealt with early enough, it can be difficult to manage. In this article, we’re going to look at 5 of the most important signs that show you could be developing a gambling problem. If you recognise yourself in the following behaviours, it might be time to look for help.
1: You only play fast-paced and repetitive games that have frequent wins
Some gambling games are more addictive than others are. The most addictive ones tend to be fast-paced (to keep up the excitement), repetitive (so you don’t have to think too hard) and have frequent wins (so that players feel they’re winning, even when they’re not coming out on top). Many game developers spend a long time making sure their games have “hooks” to keep you playing.
The biggest culprits when it comes to addictive games are the slot machines. The bright lights, the fast turnover, the illusion of skill wrapped up in repetition, all these qualities make them hard to resist. They attract gamblers like a flame attracts moths. Roulette is another big one for triggering compulsive behaviour.
Playing these games doesn’t mean you’re definitely developing a gambling problem, but they can certainly act as a trigger.
2: You’ve borrowed money to gamble
This is one of the clearest signs that you’re developing a problem. You should never borrow money to gamble, not from friends, and never from the loan shark-like payday lenders.
I can’t think of a single reason why it would be a good idea to borrow money to place bets. I know why a gambler might think so – a sure bet with a high return, but it’s a myth. It’s not a unicorn you’re seeing, but a horse with an ice-cream cone stuck on its snoot. Sure bets don’t exist unless you’re cheating.
Unless you’re highly skilled at sports betting (i.e., you have a lot of in-depth knowledge in a particular sport) it’s unlikely that you have a good bet. And no one else will offer their tips up without making you pay for it, even then, there are no guarantees. With other games, e.g. poker, baccarat, or bingo, it’s impossible to have a sure bet that gives you enough time to borrow money.
There’s no logical reason for borrowing money to gamble. The second you’re doing this, you’re at high risk for developing a problem. Get help now.
3: You’ve trashed your credit score
If you’ve borrowed money to gamble, there’s a high likelihood that you’ve done it irresponsibly. A good way to check is to take a look at your credit score. Any score about 570 is OK, but if it’s below that, it’s time to start taking stock of your finances and finding ways to manage your money better.
There are plenty of schemes that can help you get back on track, but they only work if you also change the behaviours that took you down the wrong track. Places like StepChange can help you arrange affordable debt management plans with your creditors.
Gambling should NEVER affect your credit score or financial well-being. If it does, it’s time to act.
4: You’ve started visiting real-world casinos alone
A lot of people start their gambling habit by visiting the bookies with their mates after work. That’s fine. It’s a bit of fun to unwind. Sometimes, you might even meet up with your friends on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night for a night out at the casino.
All fun and games.
But problems can start to develop when you start going alone. You’ve removed the social side of gambling and that means you’re in dangerous waters. You’re now at risk of your habit getting out of control. The social cues that usually limit impulsive behaviour (e.g. peer pressure) aren’t there anymore.
Instead, all the cues are telling you to gamble more and your defences are down: a recipe for disaster.
5: You’re finding it hard to get your mind off gambling
If you’re constantly occupied with gambling, this is a sign that it’s starting to take over your life. It should never be something that you think about all the time. When it’s preying on your mind like a siren, calling you to dash yourself across the rocks, it’s time to stop.
Do you recognise any of the signs above in your own behaviour? Yes? Then it’s time to act now before it becomes a serious gambling addiction. There’s a lot of help available and you can find further help and advice from us here.