As the problems associated with gambling addiction have been studied over the years, the iGaming industry has created a Responsible Gaming movement to help players who may be struggling to cope for various reasons. The main aims are to spread awareness about gambling problems, to provide the tools that players need to limit their access to gaming sites, and to provide extra resources to which a player can turn in times of need.
As there is a certain percentage of people that cannot simply enjoy a few hours of gaming entertainment and then move on with their lives, it’s important that this movement exists. Now, online casinos implement many of the suggestions provided by Responsible Gaming, with some even going as far as providing self-assessment tools. Here, then, we will be covering all of this and more in greater detail, and we’ll provide links to where you or someone you know can get help whenever you need it. So, let’s begin with a definition of what gambling addiction is…
What is gambling addiction/ludomania?
Ludomania is essentially a more highfalutin term for gambling addiction. It comes from the Latin for ‘I play’ (‘ludo’) and ‘madness’ (‘mania’). And this is a very accurate way to frame it in many respects. For those who experience gambling addiction, it is a compulsive action (or ‘madness’) that cannot be stopped through willpower alone. Even if the activity is damaging many different areas of their lives, including their finances, their relationships, and their mental wellbeing.
Gambling produces adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. However, unlike some other addictions, gambling addiction is purely psychological and does not have some of the more physical dependencies that occur with substance abuse, for example. However, males are statistically more likely to develop problems than females. Also, the younger you start gambling, the more likely that your brain will become hardwired to seek out such pleasures. Lastly, those with underlying mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD may develop problems simply because they tend to be less risk-averse and they care little about the future.
The warning signs of problem gambling
There are many key indicators that suggest someone might be experiencing problems with gambling. One of them alone may not be indicative, but a few or more combined can often be the warning signs that something isn’t right. Of course, these can be applied to yourself if you gamble often or to a friend or family member who you know to play games or bet on sports:
- Exceeding spending limits
- Playing for many hours on end
- Borrowing or stealing money
- Often thinking about gambling
- Finding it difficult to stop playing
- Chasing loses to pay off debt
- Playing more often than usual
- Neglecting family and/or friends
- Losing interest in other hobbies
- Being irritable or argumentative
- Experiencing depression or guilt
- Skipping work, family, or school
- Arguing with others about gambling
- Lying about gambling activities
How can responsible gaming help me?
The staff working for online casinos and sportsbook sites are trained to spot problem gambling and to work towards helping that individual rather than milking them for all they’re worth (as the case used to be). Support staff now look for flashes of emotion, irritable behavior, and offensive language used in live chats, phone calls, and emails. Casino software automatically detects if someone is depositing far more than usual, or if they are depositing more often, so casino managers and support can step in. Responsible Gaming also informs marketing departments about not targeting vulnerable players with misleading advertising or false promises.
Many online casinos now have tools for players to self-assess their gambling habits. These online questionnaires are one of the many ways in which a player discovers they may have a problem and gives them advice for finding help. Furthermore, there are now tools in place so that a player can choose to place voluntary spending limits per week/month, restrict the amount of time they are allowed on the site, or to completely exclude themselves from logging in.
Organizations that support problem gamblers
There are many charitable and expert organizations that provide impartial and confidential support whenever you or someone you know needs guidance. We’ve listed these in alphabetical order to not show bias, but each one of them is excellent in times of crisis:
- Betfilter (http://www.betfilter.com/)
- GambleAware (https://about.gambleaware.org/)
- Gambler’s Anonymous (http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga//)
- Gambling Therapy (https://www.gamblingtherapy.org/en)
- GamCare (https://www.gamcare.org.uk/)
- Gordon Moody Association (https://www.gordonmoody.org.uk/)
- International Center for Responsible Gaming (https://www.icrg.org/)
- Responsible Gaming Council (https://www.responsiblegambling.org/)
- Responsible Gaming Foundation (https://www.rgf.org.mt/)
How can I help someone struggling to cope?
Before you can help someone else, you need to be in a good place yourself. That means that you should never loan a problem gambler money, no matter how convincing their arguments for paying you back might be. You should also be in the right state of mind if you are attempting to help someone experiencing a psychological addiction – it is very hard work that can ultimately be disappointing if they happen to relapse. And when that happens, you will need to be strong, so that you remain calm and supportive no matter what. But doing it alone is never advised.
Confronting a problem gambler can also be a traumatic experience, as they can often see you as the enemy. Therefore, you should reach out to one or more of the organizations that we’ve listed above. The expert guidance you receive from them can be a very important factor in whether you end up helping or hindering a close friend or a family member experiencing gambling addiction. But, ultimately, it is a disease of the mind and one that can be treated!.
Responsible Gaming – bottom line
Many different things can take casual players into the more dangerous territories of gambling addiction. We need to be aware of the triggers that can cause this and to reach out for help whenever we suspect that something isn’t right. The whole movement aims to help everyone!