While gambling is a fun pastime for most people, for some people it becomes a compulsion or addiction that can make their lives unmanageable. Some people get themselves into serious financial trouble and the behaviour that goes with the addiction can cause them to damage important relationships with family, friends and even work colleagues or associates.
It’s important to keep an eye on how you play to make sure that you don’t cross the line into problematic gaming. To do this, it’s best to stay educated on the warning signs so that you can spot them before it becomes a foregone conclusion.
The first and most important warning sign is continuing to play when you can no longer afford to do so. Problem gamblers will keep playing, even when they know the odds are against them. In order stay in the game, they may borrow money, take out loans or use money that was set aside for other purposes, and will rationalise that they can win back the money.
Problem gamblers will also start to lie about their gambling, or will feel the need to be secretive about how much they spend. People who play for entertainment will set a budget and will likely be open about how much they spent, won or lost. Problem gamblers will only talk about the wins, not the losses, and will feel like they can’t be honest about how often they play. They may start lying to husbands or wives, or to colleagues about how much time they spend at the casino.
People with a gambling addiction will become obsessed with gambling. While many of us think about our hobbies a lot, or spend lots of time planning fun activities, gamblers will think of almost nothing else. They will struggle with sleeplessness thinking about the next game, and will find ways to take time out of their day or schedule to go gamble, as it becomes the most important thing in their life.
Compulsive gambling, or addiction, can be terribly damaging to your life and financial health. It can change the way you deal with money and make coping with financial matters difficult for the rest of your life. Stay familiar with the signs and symptoms so that you know when you or a family member is ready to take some time out from the game. Make sure you are still having fun and remember to play responsibly with both your time, and your money.