Responsible Gambling & How To Recognize Gambling Addiction

Early Signs of Gambling Addition

'Gambling Addiction' is when compulsive gaming has negative effects on an individual's life and is defined as"the inability to stop gambling when losses begin to take a toll on relationships, finances, and career".

'Responsible Gaming' is what will prevent gambling addiction. It includes bankroll and time management as well as the operator's responsibility to exclude underage players.

This article will look at the issue of healthy gaming both from the individual and the operators' perspective, but most importantly, let you know when and where to get help in time!

    Some Thoughts on Healthy Gambling

    Many people think that gambling addiction is unavoidable once you enter the door of a casino. The truth is that you can easily avoid betting at games over and over by using the built-in functions that are found in casino games online: in fact, some of the best online casinos feature a responsible gambling policy which automatically stops the gambler’s betting activity at a specific point: for example, if the gambler has overcome the casino’s fixed amount of money per each bet or if the daily maximum amount of real money betting hasn’t been respected. Fortunately, not everyone becomes addicted to gambling.

    To maintain a healthy level of online gambling make sure to follow these policies;

    • Only gamble at casinos recommended for real money gambling as they obey to responsible gaming policies!
    • Use the built-in responsible features found at licensed operators, such as budget and wagering limits!
    • Gambling is entertainment, not an income generator.
    • Avoid trying to make up what you have just lost.
    • Make sure that gambling is not the only active hobby you have.
    • Keep your gaming sessions limited – a fixed time each day is the best option.
    • Gambling is meant to be fun. When it stops being fun and becomes an escape, it's time to stop.

    If you suspect you are sliding into addiction you should reach out immediately to the support team at the casino. They are trained and equipped to help get you back from the edge, and/or to stop you from gambling altogether.

    Recognize Gambling Addiction

    How do you know that you are at risk of getting addicted, though? There’s a fine line between escapism and outright addiction, and the boundaries are often merged to the point where we can’t tell the one from the other.

    • Gambling is no longer fun, losses are a source of irritation.
    • You are spending more on your gambling activities than you would on other activities.
    • You seek to sell off property in order to keep going.
    • Social activities are no longer as important as spending time at home gaming.
    • You don’t quit when you are ahead.
    • You immediately stake any winnings that you may have made.
    • Your thoughts are dominated by gambling.
    • Betting becomes routine and no matter how much you stake, you don’t feel excited about it.
    • You start developing secretive behavior to keep friends and family at arm’s length.

    If any of the above instances are familiar to you, then it might be time to take the first step and get yourself help.  This can be difficult, as only a small percentage of gamblers' problems seek help due to embarrassment and stigma. There's nothing to be ashamed of! It can be easy to get carried away while gambling because it is fun. There are many ways to get help. Discreet measures can be pursued if don’t want your family or friends to be aware of the problem. Online casinos are always ready to help if you reach out to them, they take this matter very seriously.

    When Gambling Becomes Pathological  

    Compulsive gaming is considered an addictive disorder.

    Pathological Gambling is recognized as a mental disorder and classified as such by the DSM-IV and Gambling Addiction by DSM-5 and the ICD-10. Both the DSM and the ICD are Diagnostic Manuals used by professionals to diagnose mental disorders. 

    Most professionals do not distinguish between "pathological gambling" and "gambling addiction" but if an individual has committed illegal acts to finance his gambling then he fulfills the criteria for pathological gambling disorder. 

    According to the DSM-5 you suffer from gambling addiction if you recognize at least four of the diagnostic criteria for gambling addiction and the DSM-IV for Pathological Gambling if five conditions are met. The most common of the diagnostic criteria to be aware of are;

    1. Preoccupation with gambling (constantly thinking of how to get a chance to gamble or how to finance his gambling) resulting in loss of relationships or jeopardizing his/her career/education. 

    2. Often gambles when feeling distressed, common emotions can be anxious, depressed, helpless and guilty.

    3. A pattern of chasing losses. 

    4. Lies to family and friends to cover up his gambling. 

    5. Increased anxiety and/or irritation when trying to cut down/stop gambling.

    (Full list can be found here)

      How to Get Help

      Here are some things you can do in the event you find yourself in a situation which is, or is about to get, out of control:

      • IF your gaming is out of control we strongly advise you to close all of your gambling accounts across all operators ASAP! At the same time, seek support through friends and family, a counselor or a group!
      • If you have difficulties keeping your gaming budget then close your email accounts that receive promotions from casinos and unfollow any gaming-related groups.
      • Spending Limits: Online casino support agents are trained to help and advise you.  You can request spending limits on your account. You can control your spending by simply requesting a limit of x dollars per day, week or month.
      • Self-Exclusion: Give yourself a break! Have your account frozen. Self-exclusion usually has a minimum of 6 months and can be carried extended as per your needs after the period ends. The minimum 6 month period is enforced by all responsible casinos.
      • Permanent self-exclusion: By admitting to "gambling addiction" (and using that exact term!) to casino support, your account will be closed ASAP and permanently. Online casino procedures are in place to help you in your quest to escape the addiction cycle, so work closely with them and they will help to get your life back in order.
      • Contact a Professional Hot Line: Your online casino will provide information on local support groups and other online assistance – don't be afraid to use those we link to below!

      Recognize Gambling AddictionThere are many ways to get the help you need, locally or online, including anonymous groups and organizations such as:

      Some Advice To Family Members & Professionals 

      Gambling addiction is as serious as substance addiction and difficult to tackle once the addiction is a fact. Early detection is therefore essential!

      The above-mentioned support groups and hot-lines are open to you as well. Use them!

      Don't be afraid to ask your friend/patient questions but at the same time remember that this is an addiction and he/she is most likely in denial.

      Your initial goal should be to show support, to gain trust in order to understand his/her relationship to gambling. Be honest with your concern, let your friend know you are concerned that his gaming might be out of control.

      • When you first bring up the topic, avoid to ask personal questions, prefer generic questions as this is less received as a threat
      • The more trust your friend has in you, the more precise and direct can you address the issue but remember to always do this without accusation! 
      • Ask your friend/patient about his gambling habits (when during the day does he/she gamble, how much time is spent gambling, try to figure out how many different accounts he/she has active, talk about priorities, if he/she chose to gamble instead of activities he used to do, or instead of spending time with family and friends)
      • Ask about the type of games, about losses and wins, if your friend says he is playing a bit more right now to catch up what he has lost, then this is one of the red signs of gambling addiction!

      Responsible Gaming & Operator Responsibilities

      'Responsible Gaming' is the terminology gaming operators are obligated to fulfill in order to meet the conditions of a gaming license. It is a broader term and not only a matter of tackling gambling addiction.  Online casinos need to consider the following issues as well, within the realm of their Responsible Gaming awareness campaigns:

      • Underage gambling - Site operators are responsible for preventing underage customers and browsers from frequenting their sites and software. Rigorous age verification standards that confirm the identity of all gamblers are required.
      • Fraud - Local and international policies require each online casino business to implement anti-money laundering procedures.
      • Secure Data and Information - Protecting the customers’ private data is paramount in the minds of operators. The portals use an intricate set of measures, including SSL security protocols to make sure all data is kept encrypted and away from thieving third parties.
      • Fair Gaming - Operators are required to ensure that all online gaming products are tested for safety and complete fairness. Third-party sources conduct external audits and investigate the use of RNG (random number generators) to guarantee that outcomes are completely fair.

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