Gambling is fun, exciting, thrilling and a great form of entertainment. However, be you a first-time gambler, novice or an experienced player, it is likely that you are at least familiar with the idea that gambling can become habit forming which may itself lead to some form of addiction. There are a number of strategies which players can adopt to avoid, reduce the effects of or eliminate undesirable behavioural patterns as well as a number of organisations dedicated to assisting players who are worried they may have a problem. Discover below the principles of responsible gaming.
Strategies for Safe, Responsible Gaming
NeonSlots will explore some of the most common symptoms of compulsive gambling before discussing the importance of seeking help from friends, family and professional organisations culminating in a list of contact details for organisations with a proven track record.
Staying in control is all about making smart decisions before you gamble. After all, experienced 'drinkers' have an idea of the quantity of alcohol they are likely to consume on any given night out and how many nights out they will have over the course of, say, a month. In both cases, it will all depend on the individual and their circumstances. So, here are some tried and tested ideas for staying in control:
- Limit the time and money you plan to spend playing and stick to it
- Leave debit and credit cards at home
- When online, limit yourself to one account and set a spending limit on that account
- Set an alarm – be it online or in a gambling house, setting an alarm will remind you to physically walk away from the gambling activity
- Ask a friend to ask you a couple of times a week how you are doing with your goals
- Reality Checks – these are scheduled moments in which you plan to take time out from playing, for example, take a break every 30 minutes, physically move away from the game, even turn off the device you are using
The above steps are a great start and will be enough for most people. If you feel you need that little extra push, then it is a very smart move to consider other modern tools like self-exclusion.
By joining a self-exclusion scheme which will effectively exclude you from specific venues or forms of gambling for a given period, including: arcades, betting shops, bingo venues, casinos and online gambling. You will have to provide identification and photograph. This is one of the most effective tools you can use if experiencing difficulties. Gambling should be fun and entertainment, and mostly it is, and this is a great way to keep it so. By signing up to a self-exclusion scheme physical venues will assist you to refrain from entering, if staff members see you in one of their establishments they will do all they can to help you but will not allow you to frequent the premises or make bets and will let other venues you have self-excluded from that you have been present in an establishment from which you have agreed not to enter. This truly is the best medicine, for players who enter betting venues having self-excluded, this is exactly to sort of help they need to regain control and keep going on the path to recovery. NeonSlots.com provides a list below of the venues and methods of gambling that have self-exclusion schemes and their contact details.
Betting Shops Self-exclusion helpline: 0800 294 2060.
Bingo - You can self-exclude from any traditional licensed bingo venue in Great Britain either at the club itself or by filling out an electronic form available from the Bingo Association.
Casinos - The Self-Enrollment National Self-Exclusion, or 'SENSE' is voluntarily scheme for land-based casinos across the UK. Address: Playing Safe Carlyle House 235-237 Vauxhall Bridge Road London SW1V 4AU, email@example.com
Self-exclusion from online games of chance can be done by contacting each website. The Remote Gambling Association has a growing list of members and exclusion from their list can be carried out via their website. There is currently no universal national for self-exclusion of online casinos.
There are a lot of smart decisions you can make to regain control or simply keep track of your gambling habits, for example, by using blocking software, asking your internet provider to block adult sites, getting rid of credit and debit cards in favour of an 'standard' bank card which cannot be used to make purchases and is limited to making physical withdrawals from cash machines. This is all good news for anyone experiencing difficulties as there are many more and more powerful tools to help you regain control of your gambling activity than other forms of habit forming behaviour typical which may arise from other social activities.
Blocking software is another great tool if you are concerned about online gambling. This software specifically blocks online casino websites. General blocking software includes:
Gambling specific 'site blockers' include:
- gamban (Mac OS X or Windows computer) - please note there is a fee for this software
- betfilter Windows, Mac, Android and iOS
- gamblock - Windows computers and Android phones
These so-called 'site blockers' may not prevent you from gambling completely but they will certainly reduce temptation and the opportunity to gamble, just as it is more difficult to consume alcohol when there is less alcohol to consume. For further information, contact Gamcare. Your internet service provider may also be able to help. They may have the option of opting out of adult sites, which naturally include online gambling generally, be it online slots, fully licensed casinos or any other forms of gambling. Getting rid of your debit and credit cards is another great way of regaining control. It comes as a surprise to many people to find that it is still possible to have a standard bank card which is neither a debit nor a credit card. Taking this step would certainly go a long way to slowing down online gambling. Many legal casinos online offer the opportunity to make deposits via various alternative payment methods such as prepayment cards, bitcoin and similar which would allow you to control your expenditure over given time periods.
What is Addiction?
In terms of gambling, addiction is defined as an inability to control an impulse to gamble, which in turn can lead to a negative impact upon the player on a personal level as well as socially. As in the case of many addictions or habit forming behaviours, such as those associated with the use of alcohol, playing games console, sugary snacks or even sport. Addiction in general is often considered from the perspective of the level and scope of difficulties a series of repetitive behaviours presents in the life of the individual, his or her family and of how such behaviours negatively affect their lives, work and relationships.
Is there a Problem?
You may or may not have a problem, or you may know someone who does, but even if you or they do not, it is worth knowing the signs of addictive behaviour in relation to gambling just as it is worth knowing the risks of any other activity you may participate in. You would not go sky diving without knowing the risks just as you would not go rock climbing without knowing the ropes. All human activity involves an element of risk, so knowing what they are, how to control them and how to recover from their associated pitfalls is well worth knowing before you set out.
Here is a checklist of behaviours which may indicate you have or perhaps are on a path to addictive behaviour. If you:
- Spend more money and time on gambling than you can afford
- Find it difficult to stop gambling
- Have arguments with family and friends about gambling or the money spent gambling
- Are less interested in spending time with your friends and family than usual in favour of time spent gambling
- Spend a great deal of time thinking or discussing gambling
- Conceal the full extent of your betting activities from friends, family or colleagues
- Find yourself playing to recover loses
- Gamble until you are in financial difficulties or until you have no more money to gamble
- Borrow money, sell personal belongings or default on bills in order to gamble
- Feel the need to gamble more money or spend more time gambling for the same feeling of elation as you once did
- Neglect work, school, family, personal needs or household responsibilities because of gambling
- Feel a heightened state of anxiety or stress, guilt or depression
If any of this sounds familiar, remember, do not panic, you are not alone, you are not the first and having just recognised that you may have a problem, are already on the way to recovery. Two awesome websites with more information regarding gambling problems are: Gambleaware and Gamecare.
More information about the signs of problem gambling can be found on the Gambleaware and Gamcare websites. They also provide general information about gambling, including how to gamble safely and where to get help if you or someone you know has problems with gaming. You can call the national gambling helpline free of charge on 0808 8020 133 (open 8am – midnight, 7 days a week).
Half the Battle
It is often said that if someone with a problem can take that courageous and smart step to acknowledging the difficulties they are experiencing, difficulties that can affect anyone at various times in their life, then the battle is already half won. 'No man is an island', as the saying goes and of course, a problem shared is a problem halved. We know this to be instinctively true when we see friends and family struggling against life's multiple challenges and don't hesitate to help them whenever we can. Unfortunately, when it comes to our own problems, it takes a great deal more effort to recognise the problems we have, often for a multitude of noble reasons such as not wishing to trouble or disappoint the people we love. When we are faced with addictive behaviour, this is a major challenge and we really need to have family and friends on board as well as seeking advice from one of the many professional organisations dedicated to assisting us in times of need (see below).
Asking for Help
Being honest with yourself, your friends and family can come as a great relief to most people in most circumstances. The more support you have, the faster and more complete your recovery will be. NeonSlots provides the following list of organisations all of which are extremely experienced in gambling addiction particularly as many of their team members are experienced players who have had difficulties with gaming. Making that first step might be one of the hardest but most amazing things you ever do.
There is a wide range of evidence based treatment for gambling addiction that really, really works. Peer support may be drawn from people who have shared experiences who wish to support each other in overcoming their problems, which may be via forums, online chats or even through organised meetings.
Gamblers Anonymous provide all of these means and you will definitely not feel alone. Address: Doncaster CVS, Intake Wellness Centre, Doncaster, DN2 6PL. Motivational interviews are just that, a great way to focus a troubled player on some sobering facts, that they are not alone, that the problem is being taken seriously and the path to regaining control is already well trodden by many people of all shapes and sizes from all around the world. The interviewer generally has a vast range of experience of gambling addiction and solutions. Realistic goals are discussed and the player is given a no-nonsense view of what is to come, focusing the mind brilliantly on the way forward. Step-by-step programs, best foot forward, one step and one day at a time. A practical, realistic approach is given on how to take back control. When someone falls and breaks a leg, we all know it won't be matter of days before they are up and running around a sports pitch, nor will they do so after a single day of treatment or self-help. The same is true for gambling addiction. The first steps will include recognising the problem and its extent, how it affects the player as well as their family and friends as well as taking some very quick steps like taking control of finances with better planning, self-exclusion or some other strategy. Friends and family or a third party might be involved in the process, asking how you are doing with your goals, for example. Starting new hobbies is always beneficial, which while generating a genuine love for a new activity, will also provide a distraction from gambling giving the affected person a new focus in life. Gamblers Anonymous also have an extensive set of useful documents to read through, including, 'Towards the first 90 Days' and 'Beyond 90 Days' as well as the 'The Twelve Steps of Recovery' which provide a detailed action plan that will make a very real difference to your life.
Organisations and Helplines
Begambleaware.org is a free and confidential organisation dedicated to providing advice and assistance for all matters relating to gambling addiction with a free phone number as well as live chat facility.
National Gambling Helpline (Freephone) 0808 8020 133, Lines open between 8am – midnight -7 days a week). Address: GambleAware® c/o Responsible Gambling Trust, 7 Henrietta Street, London, WC2E 8PS Registered in England No 4384279 Charity No 1093910
In the event of any of the helplines listed in this article being unavailable or if you need to call outside of their opening hours and you are in a crisis, please contact the Samaritans on in the UK and the ROI on 116 123. In an emergency, always call 999 in the UK, 911 in the USA and Canada, 112 in most European countries, 000 in Australia and 111 in New Zealand.
National Problem Gambling Clinic: provides evidence based treatment to gamblers of 16 years old and over, as well as support for their families and friends. Available in England and Wales. Address: 69 Warwick Road, London SW5 9BH. Tel: 020 7381 7722. Fax: 020 7381 7723. Gambling.firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gordon Moody Association provides 12 week residencies, an outreach service with continued support for as long as in necessary, online support and support for family and friends.
Telephone: 01384 241292. Email: email@example.com. Registered Charity Number: 1124751. Company Ltd by Guarantee: 06302768
Better Futures Offering "immediate and confidential help" to those who wish to stop gambling. Better Futures provides assessment of online gambling difficulties, their level and extent as well as advising on how to proceed. Address - Information Commissioner's Office ZA140469, Social Enterprise UK
All too often, a player who is experiencing difficulties resisting their impulses to gamble find themselves in debt. Debt Options are completely independent of and are not funded by, nor are they connected in any way with money lenders. They will assist in organising repayment schemes and negotiate on your behalf. Tel: 0800 234 360
Gam-anon - Support for those affected by others gambling including support for the family and friends of persons with gambling problems. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 08700 50 88 80
Bet Know More - are a gambling support service, with a mission to provide support and education services to address problematic issues caused by gambling, http://www.betknowmoreuk.org/ specifically working in Islington, North London.
Its Good To Talk - This organisation has trained staff who can assist and provide therapy as well as make referrals to other organisations to find the tailor made expert assistance required for the individual in need as well as their friends and family.
There are a number of independent organisations dedicated with assisting in the provision of debt relief, counseling and mediation between the persons experiencing financial difficulties and money lenders. They are there to help and are capable of providing life changing assistance.
The Money Advice Service - Free & impartial money advice, set up by government. Tel: 0300 500 5000
Citizens Advice Bureau. The Citizens Advice Bureau helps people resolve legal, financial and other problems by providing free information and advice. For more information, including the location of a local office, visit the website.