How to Understand if You Have a Gambling Problem
The first step towards addressing an addiction like this is admitting that it exists. Actually identifying whether or not you have a gambling problem in the first place, however, might be trickier than it sounds.
We’ve already addressed this issue in more detail in another article, which you should definitely check out if you fear you’re addicted. For now though, here are a few of the most common telltale signs that you might have stopped gambling responsibly:
- You’re spending more than you can truly afford to on your betting
- You’ve taken on debt to fund your gambling habit
- Your friends or family have mentioned that you might have a problem
- Lying to your loved ones about your betting
- You feel stressed or anxious when you think about betting
- Your family or social life is suffering because of your gambling
- You find that your stakes are consistently rising, simply to get the same enjoyment
- You’re chasing your losses (i.e. betting more to win back money you’ve already lost)
- Betting is affecting your work or educational life
How to Keep Gambling Under Control
After reading through the list in the previous section, you might fear that you do indeed have a gambling problem. The last thing you should do now is panic.
Firstly, you should firstly realise that hundreds of thousands of other British punters are in the same boat. Secondly, you should start looking immediately at ways in which you can tackle the issue head-on, and keep your gambling under control. Here are some of the best ways to practise responsible gambling:
- Try Taking a Break – There’s a chance you’ve gotten into a bad habit of betting too much, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually addicted. The most straightforward way to find out is to simply try to take a break. Tell yourself you’re going to sit out a weekend of betting, or take an entire week off. If you complete this successfully, it might help you reset. If you’re unable to stay away even that long, it might be a bad sign. Doing so is easy. Do some calculations, and identify the maximum amount you could potentially afford to lose over a given time frame (such as a week, or a month). You must then stick to that figure religiously. After you’ve deposited or wagered that amount within the time frame, you stop gambling immediately.
- Create a Staking Plan – As mentioned briefly, one of the biggest and most destructive signs of problem gambling is betting more than you can afford to lose. Responsible gambling obviously involves ensuring this is not the case, and creating a staking plan is a great step you can take.
- Bet Sober – Irresponsible gambling goes hand-in-hand with alcohol or drug use. If you want to do either, that’s your own choice. We would highly recommend, however, that – if you do so – you stay completely clear of placing any wagers at all. The likelihood that your wagers won’t be… the smartest in the world is high, to say the least.
- Delete Your Betting Apps – Betting apps are a super-convenient way to wager. The flip-side of that convenience, however, is that they make it incredibly easy to place wagers that you haven’t thought through, and which may be ill-advised. Simply deleting your betting apps is the easiest way to tackle this impulse gambling. This will immediately reduce the temptation to stick down a quick wager when you’re out and about.
- Install an Ad Blocker – Controversy has surrounded betting adverts for years, with their detractors saying that they’re a constant source of temptation for problem gamblers. You can’t avoid all these ads (they’re basically everywhere nowadays), but you can take care of the ones on your computer easily enough by installing a strong ad blocking tool.
- Talk to Somebody Close – As in many areas of life, a chat with a close friend or family member can do wonders here. It might sound embarrassing to admit that you’re struggling to bet responsibly. This is a well-known issue nowadays, though, and – assuming you choose the right person – talking through your worries may either alleviate them, or help you to find new solutions for the problem.
- Self-Exclude – This is the most dramatic step we’ve suggested yet. If you’re completely unable to gamble responsibly, however, it could be a necessary one. Self-exclusion is usually handled by GAMSTOP, and you’ll find more information on it in the next section.
- Seek Direct Help – If talking with someone close to you didn’t work, or you’d simply prefer to maintain your privacy, there are plenty of ways you can talk with another trained and sympathetic person. Gamblers Anonymous, Gordon Moody, and BigDeal are just a few examples, all of which are highly regarded and free to use.
Responsible Gambling Measures from UK Bookies
You don’t have to fight the responsible gambling battle alone. Instead, UK sportsbooks provide various tools to help you out here.
Some of these are mandated in order to get a UKGC licence, while others are provided voluntarily by bookies. Either way, we’d definitely recommend using sportsbooks which have these tools, to help both reduce temptation or deal with problem gambling if it arises. Here are three of the most useful services.
This is an easy and effective way to limit your spending on sports betting.
All licensed bookies nowadays should make it easy to impose deposit limits on your account. As the name suggests, these forbid you from paying more than a certain maximum into your account within a given time frame.
This is a common feature on the top British sportsbooks. It’s basically a halfway-house between the self-imposed breaks we mentioned earlier, and full self-exclusion (which we’ll discuss shortly).
Basically, you can use a time out to lock your betting account for a short-ish amount of time; a couple of weeks, say. This is easily done within your account settings, and can prove to be a perfect respite from constant betting action.
To get a UKGC licence now, all British bookies must partner with GAMSTOP. This is a completely free service which – while using it is certainly a big step – can be your only remaining option in tough times.
If you sign up to GAMSTOP, you’re basically self-excluding from all licensed UK sportsbooks for at least six months. You need to provide proof of identity to confirm this, which will ensure you’re unable to create (legitimate) new accounts within that time frame, in addition to losing access to your old ones.
For some people, responsible gambling is completely straightforward. For others, it’s more of an ongoing struggle.
As noted earlier, the most important thing to realise here is that – if you are having problems with responsible gambling – you’re certainly not alone. Plenty of others are in the same boat. We’ve suggested some of the best steps you can take to try and improve matters here though, and explained some of the most effective tools to help you along the way.