Gambling is any game of chance or skill in which one stakes something of value in order to win a prize. This includes games of chance such as lotteries and bingo, and games of skill such as poker and blackjack.
The word “gambling” is derived from the Greek words for ‘to risk’ and ‘to wager.’ It is a form of entertainment that can be dangerous, but there are many ways to play it safely.
Know your limits
Start by deciding how much money you can comfortably lose at a time. Before you go on the casino floor, create boundaries for yourself that will keep you from losing more than you can afford to lose. For example, don’t take out more cash to get back what you lost if you can’t fit that into your weekly entertainment budget.
Don’t chase losses
Chasing your losses is a major mistake that many gamblers make. It usually results in bigger and bigger losses over time, so it’s important to set a limit and stop gambling once you reach that limit.
If you feel like you are in a situation where you can’t control your gambling, contact StepChange for advice or support. They can offer free, confidential debt advice and help you to find a way to deal with your gambling problem.
Be a good judge of your own behaviour
It can be hard to tell when you are gambling too much or if you’re becoming more and more addicted to it. If you are concerned that you may be developing a gambling disorder, consult with your family doctor or other medical professional to discuss the situation.
A person with a gambling disorder often thinks that they can get their money back if they just play a little longer. This is known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and can lead to further problems, so it’s best to set a limit and stick to it.
Consider whether you have a mental health problem
Gambling can be a coping mechanism for people who are feeling depressed or anxious. It’s also a distraction for those who are angry or upset. However, if you have a problem and are gambling excessively, it can become a coping mechanism that is difficult to break.
If you have a mental health problem, it’s especially important to check with your doctor about whether gambling is the cause or contributing factor. Symptoms include frequent thoughts of gambling or withdrawals, difficulty controlling your spending habits and feeling overwhelmed by gambling activity.
When to seek help for your gambling addiction
You need to be aware that there are different kinds of gamblers. There are social gamblers who enjoy gambling as a leisure activity, and there are professional gamblers who depend on games of skill to win money.
The problem gambler typically has a strong desire to win big and spends a great deal of time, energy and money on gambling. They can lose track of their finances and their relationships, and it’s easy for them to start hiding their gambling activities or lying about how much they’re spending on it.