How to Avoid Gambling Problems

Gambling is the risking of something of value on an event largely determined by chance for the purpose of winning something else of value. It has existed in every culture since prerecorded history and is today a major part of the world’s economy. However, it can be dangerous if it’s not enjoyed in moderation. It can also have a negative effect on mental health.

There are many reasons people gamble. Some like the adrenaline rush of betting and winning, while others enjoy socialising or escaping from worries or stress. But for some, gambling can become problematic, causing serious harm to their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.

Some people are more prone to gambling problems than others, including those who have a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety or personality disorders. People who work in gambling establishments such as casinos, betting shops or arcades can also be more at risk of developing a problem. In fact, there’s a link between mental health and gambling problems, with people who experience depression or suicidal thoughts more likely to gamble to escape their feelings.

Despite these risks, the vast majority of people who gamble do so responsibly. But if you think your gambling has gone too far, there are some simple things you can do to reduce the risks and help yourself.

Set limits: Decide ahead of time how much you can afford to lose and stick to it. You can even set alarms, and once the signal goes off, stop gambling. Casinos are notoriously free of clocks and windows, making it easy to get lost in the moment and play for hours without realising it. You can also limit the amount you spend by using a debit card, so you’re only spending money you can afford to lose and not more than you intended to.

Don’t chase losses: When you’re down, it can be tempting to increase your bets in a desperate attempt to win back the money you’ve lost. This is known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and it’s a common mistake that can lead to more serious financial trouble. The odds are that you’ll continue to lose more than you win. The best way to avoid this is to always play within your budget and never borrow money to gamble.

Be aware of the dangers: If you’re worried about your gambling, you can seek help and support. There are charities who can help you with addiction, debt and other problems caused by gambling. To speak with someone, call StepChange for free and confidential advice.

Gambling can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a lucrative way to make money. Moreover, the more you gamble, the more you are likely to lose. So before you decide to start, be sure that you know what you’re getting into. Also, don’t forget to take regular breaks. This will improve your focus and you won’t be as tempted to keep playing when you are tired or losing track of time.