For most of us, gambling is a hobby that serves as a form of entertainment. Yet, for a hobby to be entertaining, it also has to be compelling, and gambling - like all forms of entertainment - can be so compelling that we succumb to unhealthy practices.
We don't want any of our players to fall into this trap, which is why we'll go over what it means to gamble responsibly, how to avoid developing bad habits, and where to seek help if you have developed bad habits.
Problem Gambling Defined
Problem gambling is a very straightforward concept. It is simply the recognition that your gambling habit has become a problem. You may become aware that you are excessively preoccupied with gambling, that it has begun to affect your life outside of gambling (such as your finances or your ability to concentrate on necessary tasks), or that you are finding it more difficult to disengage from gambling.
Types of Irresponsible Gambling
Gambling that can be defined as 'irresponsible' is a complex issue that the subject's personality can further complicate. Psychologists have found it helpful to distinguish between three different types of irresponsible gambling:
Compulsive gambling is the most severe type of problem gambling. Such a definition falls in the category of addiction, which means that the subject struggles to inhibit actions they know will result in dire consequences.
Binge gamblers show a range of symptoms that mirror compulsive gambling, except they indulge in it intermittently. Their desire to gamble is often triggered by an external cause, such as intoxication or negative emotion.
Problem gambling is an intermediary stage. The gambler is not yet addicted, though their habits are becoming more and more destructive and irresponsible. They can exhibit a modicum of control over their developing habit.
Find Out If You Are A Problem Gambler
The first step to finding help is determining if you have a gambling problem. GamblersAnonymous has a useful questionnaire that can help you decide if you should seek assistance.
Simply answer 'yes' or 'no' to all of the following questions:
- Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
- Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
- Did gambling affect your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
- Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
- After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
- After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
- Did you often gamble until all your money was gone?
- Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
- Have you ever sold anything to finance your gambling?
- Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
- Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
- Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
- Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom, loneliness, grief or loss?
- Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
- Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
- Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
- Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
- Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
If you answer 'yes' to 7 or more of these questions, you are very likely to have developed a habit that can be diagnosed as 'problem gambling'. We recommend that you seek immediate support from any of the organisations listed at the bottom of this page.
Responsible Gambling Initiatives at Online Casinos
In recent times, regulators and casinos have taken the initiative to help players help themselves. This includes offering a set of tools to help players monitor their gambling habits. Let's go over the tools you can use to help regulate your hobby:
Gambling is for adults, and only adults. At a responsible casino, you will have to provide details verifying that you are of the legal gambling age. This can be considered an inconvenience for many players, but I'm sure - when pressed on the issue - we can all agree that it is an inconvenience that is absolutely necessary.
When you're sat on the pokies, or playing blackjack, it's common to lose track of time. If you set a time limit, you will be notified when your session has exceeded a pre-set length of time. Furthermore, you will be given the option to carry on playing, or log out of your account. We recommend that you do not spend an inordinate amount of time playing, and to get in the habit of logging out of your account when you intended to.
Deposit and Spending Limits
Many of the best casinos help you budget for your gambling with deposit limits. You can alter these deposit limits to ensure that you spend an amount that conforms to your budget. Deposit and spending limits can be set on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and you have ultimate control over the limits you set. Please give the deposit limit serious consideration and only spend money you can afford.
There are two types of self-exclusion, temporary and permanent. If your problem gambling has become a serious issue, you should consider self-excluding. The severity of your self-exclusion should depend on the severity of your habit. Temporary self-exclusion is for players worried about developing a gambling problem; permanent self-exclusion is for those already in the throes of gambling addiction.
How to Gamble Responsibly
If you want to maintain a healthy attitude to gambling, there are a few tips and tricks that you can employ. Following these tips will not make you invulnerable to developing unhealthy gambling habits, but they will make the event less likely.
Here are some good rules to follow:
- Only spend money you can afford to lose. An excellent way to monitor your losses is to set bet and loss limits. Your casino will likely have a tool that helps you manage your losses.
- Avoid asking your friends or family for money to gamble. We are likely to act more frivolously with cash that is not our own.
- Do not gamble for a prolonged length of time. Stick to a set time limit and do not surpass it. Many casinos will notify you if you are spending an inordinate length of time playing.
- Make sure you take regular breaks. Taking a break will allow you to distance yourself from your gambling and consider if you should carry on playing. Make sure you use this time to assess the risks of continuing objectively.
- Engage in more activities than gambling. The primary issue with problem gamblers is that gambling becomes their only outlet. Socialising, regular exercise, and a diverse range of hobbies helps to regulate your values.
- Do not gamble when you are intoxicated or suffering from negative emotion. If you are intoxicated, you are more likely to gamble irresponsibly. Equally, gambling when you are suffering from negative emotion, such as anxiety, depression or stress, can become a coping mechanism.
- Seek help if you recognise that your hobby may have become an issue. You must be honest with yourself. The earlier you acknowledge that your gambling has become a problem, the easier it is to modify your habits.
Where to Find Support
If you feel as if you should seek help, or you are interested in seeking help on behalf of a family or friend, there are many organisations in Australia capable of providing it.
We will list all of the organisations below for your convenience: