Understanding Problem Gambling – Tips To Stay In Control

There is nothing more important to us at ThePuntersPage.com than your safety. However, safety isn’t just about whether a site is keeping your private financial data secure. It is also about whether they are doing their part to ensure that everyone using their site is doing so responsibly.

Responsible gambling is something we talk about in every review – and here, we are going to talk about why that is so important. We’ll be covering what problem gambling is, how to recognise if there’s an issue and what you can expect from bookmakers.

 

What is Problem Gambling?

Put simply, problem gambling is any situation where gambling becomes a negative influence in your life or of those around you.

There are two things that are quite clear to us: one is that problem gambling can be quite broadly defined and includes the following characteristics:

It can damage your relationships with your friends and family. It is any gambling-based behaviour which damages your personal life. It could be considered a preoccupation with gambling, where that fixation takes over. It’s also the emotional impact it can have. Indeed, it is well documented that people who have issues gambling often have mental health issues. We are not psychological experts, but this is something that is widely documented by those who are.

Secondly, it is important to understand that problem gambling is as much as an emotional issue as it is a financial issue, and that its scope is complicated, far reaching and nuanced. While there are patterns, there are many specifics that come down to the individual, and while not necessarily always unique, they are very personal.

 

Our Top 10 Tips to Help Keep Your Gambling in Control

In this section, we will be talking about how to keep your gambling in control. We want to be clear here that if you are at a point where your gambling has become an addiction, then things like deposit limits are likely not going to be enough to ensure you can gamble without it being an issue.

So, we’re instead discussing ways to keep your gambling in control from the offset, and gradually talking about steps you can take if things become more serious. That is because it’s important to understand that a problem with gambling is a gradual process and by taking it seriously from the outset, we can do everything we can to ensure that gambling remains safe at every level.

1. Do not gamble for the wrong reasons

Before you gamble, it’s important to analyse and understand why you are gambling. Many of us gamble to enhance our enjoyment of sports, for instance, and to provide added interest. So long as everything is kept under control, gambling can do exactly that, and in a safe way.

However, if you are gambling when you are in a bad emotional state in order to control your moods, then this is an example of how people can approach gambling in an unhealthy way. You should never gamble when depressed, stressed or dealing with mental health issues, for instance. You should never gamble because you feel compelled to do so. There is a difference between liking and enjoying something and feeling compelled to do something.

Ask yourself if you were not able to gamble at this moment, would it upset you? If it would, then your reason may be compulsion rather than enjoyment.

2. Do not view gambling as a reliable source of income

There are no certainties in gambling. There is no magic formula that can ensure consistent winnings. Any tipster or anybody else who claims otherwise is lying to you. Gambling is, by its nature, hard to predict. In fact, for most of us, that unknown is what makes betting enjoyable.

Nonetheless, some people wrongly think that they can guarantee winnings. As such, they end up betting more than they can afford and often, end up doing a great deal of personal and financial damage to themselves. Always remember that when gambling, losing is always a real and tangible possibility. This brings us onto our next point.

3. Decide a maximum loss amount

So, we know that when we gamble, we may lose. That is why from a financial perspective, there’s nothing more important than limiting your losses with bankroll management. There are tools on betting sites that can provide problem gambling help but here we are going to talk about how to actually decide on those limits.

There are two key factors to take into account here. One is how much you can afford to lose. At what point would losses have serious financial implications for you? Your limit should be significantly lower than that figure. But understanding where that is should give you a good frame of reference.

The second point is how much could you lose before it became a negative emotional experience. Try and be as honest as you can about this. One way to go about this is by essentially viewing the money you have put aside for gambling as already spent, with the money you may win being viewed as a bonus. It’s a good idea to view your money spent gambling as primarily for entertainment purposes, rather than for financial ones.

4. Have a walkaway amount

The walkaway amount is how much you will win before you decide to call it a day. This is especially important when you’re not betting on any specified event at things like casino slots, for instance, as they do not have natural stopping points.

You may think that setting a limit on winnings is counterproductive, but it’s actually a hugely important consideration. If you have no stopping point, then you will eventually lose your money – that’s simply how the law of averages works. And this is not just a tactical concern. Having a stopping point is vital to keeping your gambling healthy, whether you are winning or losing.

5. Never gamble to make up for losses

As we mentioned in the first part of this section, preventing your betting from becoming a compulsion – and understanding when it has become so – is vital to keeping your gambling safe. One of the most important singular things you can do in this regard, and just in terms of your sheer financial health, is to never gamble to make up for losses.

Trying to do so has left many people in a spiral of losing more and more while feeling like they need to keep gambling to recoup those losses. Alongside keeping a maximum loss amount, this is fundamental to keeping losses in control, alongside keeping your mentality towards gambling healthy in general.

6. Document your wins and losses honestly

It is easy to view gambling in a vacuum. In other words, you may view things on a day-by-day or even bet-by-bet basis. However, this can often eclipse the bigger picture. You should document and keep track of all your wins and losses as a whole. This will give you a real idea how much you have spent over the months, and even years. Putting all this into perspective can help you set those limits more firmly and logically and ensure that the way you gamble does not become unhealthy over a long-term period.

7. Utilise all the tools provided by the bookmaker

We’re not going to go into all the things that a bookmaker can offer with regards to helping people keep their gambling under control. We’ll discuss that in greater detail later in this article. Our point here is very simple: use all of the tools at your disposal. Like we said, problem gambling is a gradual process, so you should utilise everything you think could be useful whether you believe you have an issue or not.

8. Recognise when you have a problem

Understanding when you have a problem with gambling is the first step to getting problem gambling help. We know that this is a cliché, but that’s the case because it is universally true. Once again, we’ll be going into details on the signs in a later section. That said, the basics of it are very simple: if gambling has become a problem for you, in any way, then it must be acknowledged and treated with the gravity and seriousness it deserves.

 9. Get help

All of the things we have discussed here are intended to prevent gambling from getting to the point of gambling addiction. If you are at that point, then many of these tools may not be enough. If, for instance, you cannot stick to the limits you set and gambling continues to be a negative, compulsive and uncontrollable force in your life, then the only thing you can do is get problem gambling help. We’ve outlined some sources of support further down in this article.

10. Walk away

Ultimately, not all of us can control our gambling. If you cannot control your gambling – if no number of tools or advice can prevent this from being an issue – then only one step remains and that is to walk away.

It is important that if you do decide it is time to walk away, that you continue to get help for any emotional issues which may have brought you to this point. During our research, this piece of advice has been consistently stated by those who can legitimately claim to be experts. Problem gambling is often a symptom of a larger issue, and if that is the case, those issues need to be identified and help should be sought in whatever is most appropriate for your individual circumstances.

 

The Responsibility of Bookmakers

Betfair Time Out Page

All bookmakers have a certain set of responsibilities to their customers. These include things like ensuring your data is safe and making sure any casino games are provably fair and random. One of the most important is that they must do everything they can to ensure those using the site are gambling safely. This goes beyond the site simply not behaving irresponsibly. The fact that a site has not, for instance, encouraged problem gamblers to return to their site is not enough for them to be considered to have done their duty.

They must also provide tools that can facilitate people gambling responsibly. We take the availability of these tools extremely seriously. Indeed, they are a key criteria for our reviews. In every betting site review we produce, we take into account what tools are available and how well they are implemented. Here, we’re going to look through some of the most common examples.

Time Outs

This is something that is offered almost universally across bookmakers. This is used if you still want to be able to gamble – and think that you can still do so responsibly – but would like to take a break and get away from it for a period of time. Time Outs are essentially an instruction to the site to block you from being able to use it for a predetermined period. This can be anywhere from a day to a month, generally, although more can often be requested via customer service.

Reality Checks

How long you are actually on a site is a great indication of whether your gambling is in control or not. That’s what reality checks provide. They are really very simple. After a certain amount of time or after a set amount of betting activity has passed, they simply tell you how long/how much you have been gambling and may ask if you want to continue. This allows you to make the decision but still gives you a wake-up call to how long you have actually been on the site. A really useful tool, they are non-intrusive but effective.

Deposit Limits

This is possibly the most common tool available. It is worth pointing out that we actually view it as a positive in our reviews for deposit limits to be part of the sign-up process – so important do we consider this option for maintaining responsible gambling. Essentially, this allows you to set limits on how much you can deposit within a set period of time. Common timeframes include daily, weekly and monthly limits.

Loss Limits

Loss limits do exactly the same as deposit limits except that they are based on how much you have lost rather than how much you deposit. In our earlier section, this was one of our top tips to keep your gambling in check, so having a tool which keeps track of this for you is a huge plus in our eyes.

Self Exclusion

This functions as a more serious version of a time out. It is where you essentially ask the betting site to exclude you from gambling for a serious length of time. The minimum for this is generally six months and can go up to five years. All gambling providers in the United Kingdom must provide this as an option.

 

Organisations That Provide Problem Gambling Support

GamCare Homepage Screenshot

We think that the strides that have been made by operators to take their share of the responsibly for preventing problem gaming has come a long way in recent years. However, there is a point where problem gambling turns into gambling addiction and at that stage, those tools will likely not be enough to keep that persons’ gambling within safe and reasonable levels.

This is not necessarily the fault of operators – they may very well be doing everything they can. Some people though will require expert, external support with their issue. listed some of the most prominent examples of organizations you can seek out to get problem gambling help. Do keep in mind that these are not the only options for help available, but are what we considered to be the most reputable. There’s plenty of assistance out there from government programs to problem gambling reddit posts.

1.GamCare

GamCare are the name you will most likely see come up while checking out responsible gaming on your preferred operator. They are considered by many to be the top provider of help for those affected by problem gambling UK wide. Support is available online through their forums, group chats and live chat, alongside their freephone number 0808 8020 133, which is available 24 hours every day, seven days a week.

2. National Problem Gambling Clinic

According to the NHS website, you can refer yourself to the National Problem Gambling Clinic if you are aged 13 years or older and live in either England or Wales. You can check out the NHS website for more information.

3. Gordon Moody Association

The Gordon Moody Association offers residential courses for those who have a more serious issue with problem gambling UK. More information on this can be found through phone and email. Their phone number is 01384 241292 and the email address is help@gordonmoody.org.uk . They also run a gambling therapy website for online help with online gambling.

4. Gamblers Anonymous UK

Another one of the biggest institutions for helping problem gambler is Gambling Anonymous UK. Their website provides forums, advice and facilities to find and attend meetings, which they view as the most important part of their service.

5. BeGambleAware

Alongside GamCare, BeGambleAware is probably the most common site you’ll see linked to from operators, with their slogan ‘When the fun stops, stop’ known nationwide. They provide tips and advice, alongside support not only for those who think they have a problem with gambling alongside support for their loved ones and family.

6. National Debtline

We’ve talked a lot about the emotional impact of gambling, but this is not to diminish the financial impact that problem gambling can have. In many instances, it can leave people with significant debt and this is a problem that needs its own focus and attention.

The National Debtline is not focused on gambling specifically but can help people who have accrued debt due to their gambling. Their website is packed with advice on this matter. They also have a webchat and email options, as well as a freephone number. That freephone number is 0808 808 4000. All lines of communication are available between 9am and 8pm.

 

How Do I Know if I Have a Problem Gambling?

We said earlier that one of the keys of ensuring that your gambling remains unharmful is by recognising and being honest with yourself about whether it is becoming a problem. The key here then is being able to understand and recognise the signs. We’ve broken down 10 signs we view as significant in terms of problem gambling behaviour.

1. Being worried about your gambling

The fact is that most people who do not have any issues with gambling don’t spend a great deal of time worrying about whether or not it’s a problem. If you are reading this and you are concerned that you may have an issue gambling, then there’s a good chance that is the case.

2. Chasing losses

We mentioned this earlier and we are going to reiterate it here. Gambling to make up for losses is one of the most dangerous things you can do for your financial and mental health. It is not just something that should be avoided, it is something that if you find yourself doing, you should take seriously as a problem gambling sign.

3. Gambling when you do not have the money

We put this in third because often, chasing losses leads to gambling when you really cannot afford to do so. If you find yourself gambling to the point you are not leaving yourself enough money for your bills and other outgoings, then it seems likely that your gambling has become a serious problem. If you are gambling even further – to the point where it is getting you into debt – then it is virtually certain.

4. Loved ones expressing concern about your gambling

We spent a lot of time listening to experts – indeed, many of the support sources we cited above as outlets for help with problem gambling and advice are among them – and this always ranked consistently as one of the key signs that you have an issue gambling. If your loved ones are expressing concern over your gambling, it is likely for good reason.

5. Hiding your gambling

Often, in order not to worry their loved ones about the extent of their gambling, a person with an issue gambling will hide the extent. Perhaps you have lead family members who have expressed concern about your gambling in the past to believe you have quit, when that is in fact not the case.

Hiding your gambling is a deeply serious sign that your gambling is out of control and that deep down, you are aware of that fact – otherwise, you would not be making attempts to hide it.

6. Excessive time spent gambling

For most people, gambling is something they do every now and again for enjoyment. If you’re spending a huge amount of time gambling – or indeed, thinking about gamblingyou need to recognise that this is not usual behaviour. Gambling should not be allowed to take over your life, which brings us to our next example

7. Neglecting other parts of your life

If it has gotten to the point where other areas of your life are being neglected – say for instance, you’ve been avoiding going into work in order to stay at home and gamble – then it would seem likely that your issues with gambling have become very serious and have fallen into the realms of gambling addiction. If you find yourself at this point, then get yourself help for problem gambling as soon as possible.

 8. Previous failed attempts trying to control gambling

One of the most accurate tests to see whether your gambling has become a compulsion is to see how you feel when you try not gambling for a while. This is why Time-Outs are such a useful tool. If you have not yet done this, and you have concerns, we recommend you do so.

If, however, you have tried to utilise limits, time-outs or have even tried to quit but failed, then it may be time to seek professional help for problem gambling from one of the options suggested earlier in this article.

9. A significant financial impact

The fact is that if you have a problem gambling, then it is possible you have seen some serious damage to your finances. The reason we say significant financial impact here is because if you place a bet and lost, then some impact would be felt. Say for instance, you bet £10 on the winner of the World Cup and you lose. In this instance, as long as you didn’t bet more than you could afford, then the affect that had on your finances is negligible.

If, however, you are regularly betting and losing a lot of money, then the impact on your finance can be very severe. If you’ve found yourself struggling due to money lost from gambling, then it would appear your gambling is out of control.

10. A significant emotional impact

Just as important but often overlooked is the emotional impact problem gambling can have. If you find yourself stressed or irritated because of gambling, or even when you try to stop gambling, then it is likely that gambling has become a negative force in your life. This is even more so if you are feeling depressed and/or anxious as a result of gambling.

Always remember that gambling is supposed to be about enjoying yourself. If this is not the result when you bet, it is clear that you may have an issue that you need support for.

 

Should I Seek Help for Problem Gambling?

If you recognise yourself in any of the signs of problem gambling mentioned above, then the answer to this is yes.

The kind of assistance you require, of course, depends on your individual needs and issues. But the best way of finding out is to get in touch with one of the many services there to help and seek their professional advice. They are the true experts on these subjects, they have decades of experience helping others and are the best way of finding the best path forward. Confidentially with these organisations is guaranteed and there is no stigma or judgements aimed at those seeking help.

 

Problem Gambling FAQs

 🏆Should I seek help for problem gambling?

If you are concerned that you may have an issue gambling or can recognise behaviours discussed in this article, then the answer is yes.

 ❓Where can I get help for problem gambling?

There are several excellent institutions that can help if you think you have an issue controlling your gambling. These include GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous UK and BeGambleAware to name a few. More examples plus additional details can be found in the section “Organisation That Provide Problem Gambling Support”.

 🔍What tools can bookmakers provide to help users keep control of their site usage?

Common tools provided by operators include Time-Outs, Self Exclusions, Deposit Limits, Loss Limits and Reality Check features. They will also often provide links and advice on the subject.

 ✅Is problem gambling purely a financial issue?

While issues with gambling can of course have a huge impact on your finances, just as important is the emotional damage, both individually and to relationships, that can be caused.

 ❌Can I still seek help if my gambling is a secret?

Yes. Many institutions that help with this issue consider anonymity a top priority.

 

ThePuntersPage Final Say

Whether or not you have a problem gambling, it is important for all of us to remember that gambling is supposed to be something that you enjoy. If that is not the case, for any reason whatsoever, then you should stop doing it.

There is a world of difference between doing something because you enjoy it and doing it because it is a compulsion. And understanding that distinction can help you avoid a whole lot of financial and emotional pain. If you do feel a compulsion, do not wait to get help. The sooner you commit to tackling this issue, the sooner positive steps can be made. Only good things can come from seeking help if you need it, and there is no better time to start than right now.