Gambling Addiction

For the vast majority of people, gambling is simply a hobby to be enjoyed in their spare time. For others, however – and not necessarily through any fault of their own – it becomes something more.
In short, a gambling addiction simply means you can’t stop betting. If left unaddressed, it can lead to financial, social, and health-related issues. In this article, however, we’ll outline various steps you can take to either avoid things going that far, or – if you’re already having problems – help you solve them.
Joseph Haliday
Author, Betting enthusiast

July 4, 2023

Joe is a passionate sports fan, who also loves the field of sports betting. He has been creating sports betting content full-time since 2016. In that time he has written hundreds of articles, including sportsbook reviews, strategy guides, explanatory articles, betting tips, and more. Joe also enjoys wagering in his spare time, particularly on football, the NFL, and the NBA.

How Do You Understand If You Are Addicted To Gambling?

There’s not necessarily a ‘one size fits all’ definition of gambling addiction. The specifics will vary from person to person, as will the severity of the symptoms. That said, there are certainly some common signs that you may indeed have a problem. Here are the main examples:

  • Regularly taking the risk of betting more than you could theoretically afford to lose
  • An inability to resist chasing your losses (i.e. continuing to bet after sustaining heavy losses, rather than simply calling it a day)
  • Needing to adjust your lifestyle, or that of your family, to support the money needed for your gambling
  • Experiencing feelings of anxiety or stress at the thought of betting (but being unable to stop anyway)
  • Consistently betting higher and higher amounts over time (with no apparent end in sight)
  • Taking on debt to support your gambling
  • Having been accused of having a gambling problem by others

Steps You Can Take For Gambling Problems

If you do have a gambling problem, you can start taking steps to tackle it immediately. Here are some of the best ways to do so:

  1. Impose Deposit Limits – Most sportsbooks will let you put deposit limits on your account. These are the easiest way there is to reduce your spending.
  2. Take a Timeout – There are two ways to do this. Firstly, you can impose a timeout on yourself, saying – for example – that you’ll take a week off. Alternatively, some sportsbooks let you put a temporary timeout on your account.
  3. Block Certain Websites – This is another simple way to reduce temptation. There’s some great software out there – like Gamban – that you can use to block certain websites, such as sportsbooks.
  4. Block Adverts – This is another good way to help reduce temptation. Betting adverts can be a constant pain when you’re trying to avoid betting, but a strong ad blocker will take care of them for you.
  5. Self-Exclude – If you’re still struggling to stop using betting sites, you can take the more drastic step of self-excluding. We’ll discuss that in more detail shortly.
  6. Speak to Someone Close – There’s no shame in speaking to a friend or family member if you’re struggling. Doing so will likely make you feel better immediately, and they can help you with your battle.
  7. Speak to a Professional – If you feel embarrassed about speaking to someone close to you, talk to a professional instead. We’ve listed several places you can do so in the next section.

Organisations That Can Help With Gambling Addictions in the UK

Perhaps the most important lesson you can learn here is that you don’t have to fight your gambling addiction alone. Even if you don’t want to discuss the issue with your friends or family, there are plenty of fantastic organisations ready and waiting to help out.

  • GAMSTOP – To even get a license with the UK Gambling Commission nowadays, a bookie needs to sign up with GAMSTOP. This is basically a powerful self-exclusion service, which can put an immediate stop to your gambling. You simply sign up and provide your details, and will then be blocked from using all GAMSTOP-licensed bookies for as long as you like
  • GamCare – If you simply want to talk to somebody about your gambling, the Gamcare charity is a great option. There are plenty of ways to get in touch with advisors, including phone, live chat, and WhatsApp. You can also talk to other problem gamblers via forums and group chats, which is another great way to feel like you’re not struggling alone.
  • Gamblers Anonymous – Gamblers Anonymous is another service which helps you easily chat to someone about your gambling issues. Like GamCare, you can certainly talk to people online here. GA also gives you the opportunity, however, to attend in-person meetings, which run regularly around the country.
  • Gordon Moody -Gordon Moody is the UK’s leading charity for recovery from gambling addiction. It not only provides plenty of resources to help you identify and deal with gambling problems, but also has in-person treatment courses you can take to help get you back on your feet.
  • BeGambleAware – If you’ve ever seen a gambling advert (which we’re guessing you have), you’ll have heard of BeGambleAware. This is the main public service for gambling addiction treatment, and provides confidential and free support to anyone who needs it, along with plenty of details about identifying problem gambling in the first place.
  • BigDeal – Gambling problems can be a real issue for young people, not just working professionals. BigDeal specialises in this area, providing plenty of both information and direct support for younger problem gamblers, with all of it being free of charge.
  • National Problem Gambling Clinic – The National Problem Gambling Clinic is a service provided directly by the NHS. Anyone aged 13 or over can reach out, and be subsequently matched up with trained mental health professionals who will provide them with direct support for gambling addiction.

Data About Gambling Addiction in the UK

We want to stress again that there is absolutely no shame with suffering from a gambling problem. Not only is it not necessarily your fault; there are also plenty of other people up and down the country going through similar struggles, whether they actually admit it or not.

The UK Gambling Commission – whose job it is to license and regulate legitimate betting sites – provides some of the best and most reliable statistics about this. You can view the results of its most recent research here. 

For starters, the UKGC’s stats show you just how incredibly widespread gambling is, with 43% of all people thought to indulge in some form regularly. The UKGC estimates that the problem gambling rate is at 0.2%, which might sound low, but – given that there are over 67 million people in the UK – actually still represents quite a few people.

The NHS puts a firmer number on this. For starters, it puts the problem gambling rate slightly higher than the UKGC, at 0.5%. After that, it clarifies that this represents around 246,000 problem gamblers in the UK, which is obviously a pretty significant number. 

There is definitely some encouragement to be found, however. All the major sources we checked – including SBC News – agreed that problem gambling was dropping. The current 0.2% rate already represents a decline from 0.4% the year before, which could definitely represent the increase in ways to both identify and tackle problem gambling.

Final Thoughts

There are two main conclusions we hope you take from this article.
Firstly, if you believe you’re suffering from a gambling problem, you’re far from being the only one. Hundreds of thousands of other people in the UK are in the same boat, and there’s no shame in being among that number.

Secondly, if you are indeed struggling with your gambling, there’s plenty of help available. We’ve listed a whole range of services in this article which are free to use, and can help you in diverse but effective ways with your problem gambling.


It’s estimated that around 0.2% of bettors have a gambling problem. In real terms, this equates to approximately 246,000 people in the UK alone. 

There are a few different signs you can look out for. Some of the most common are betting beyond your means, feeling anxiety or stress about your betting, or taking on debt to fund your gambling. 

There are steps you can take yourself, such as imposing deposit limits or self-excluding via GAMSTOP. One of the most reliable and effective ways to deal with the issue, however, is to simply talk to somebody. 

It can be a great help to talk to friends or family if you’re experiencing problems with your gambling. If you’d prefer, however, there are plenty of great services out there, including several listed in this article, which provide you with free and anonymous assistance. 

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