About Online Casino Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling
Online casinos are a lot of fun. Virtual games are optimised with crisp HD quality graphics, there are slots with amazing 3D animations, and most reputable online casinos today are on top of their game hosting prestigious LIVE dealer suites. Furthermore, the online casinos are forever giving away free bonus cash to keep your bankroll topped up, and your ability to play real money games alive.
However, for some, the euphoria of playing online casino games can become a problem
Casinos are a part of the entertainment industry, and they know exactly how to put on a show. The large majority of us must admit that we love the flashing lights, the sound effects, the cheering, and the thrill of betting on games with life-changing amounts of cash up for grabs.
If you speak to your average casino player, most of the time he/she will tell you that they love the feeling of being part of a higher society, the thrill of walking away with a win after a successful session, and that they have a hobby they can enjoy passing the time with.
For the most part, these people are in control because they:
- have a set budget
- know their limits
- can walk away – win or lose
- understand bankroll management
For others, the buzz of playing casino games can sneak up on them. Whether they know they have a gambling problem or whether they are unware, soon 2 key factors end up catching up with them:
- Either they start to hit financial problems
- Their gambling causes social problems
Gambling addiction is not just secluded to online casino players. It is a problem that the industry as whole must deal with be it an online or land-based betting establishment.
- Sports bookies
- Poker rooms
- Bingo halls
- Slots shops
- Pub Fruit machines
All industries that take wagers for cash prizes have all seen their fair share of problem gamblers, and they have had to act responsibly and turn those players away. Even scratch cards and the National Lottery have caused some individuals problems.
Addiction spreads far and wide in all industries
Some people simply have addictive personalities or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Many of the financial and social issues commonly associated with those with gambling addictions are also the same traits found with people that have shopping addictions.
They will continuously buy clothes, video games, and accessories on their credit cards. They won’t stop until finally there is no money left. This is when depression kicks in, and the realisation that the short lived high of shopping is now a craving that cannot be satisfied because all financial routes have been exhausted.
In turn, the problems associated with any addiction can lead to:
- personality swings
Overall, addiction is a problem that exists even outside of the real money gaming industry. However, lucky for those that enjoy betting online, there is more help available compared to a shopaholic or someone with OCD.
How do the online casinos tackle problem gambling?
Within the online casino industry there are several regulators. They work with independent charities and government organisations that have been purposely formed to help those with a gambling problem.
Research by these specialist entities covers various topics:
- How to reduce the risk of becoming a problem gambler
- How to identify whether you have a gambling problem
- How to restrict yourself if you feel susceptible to addiction
Casino Software Allows Players to Set Themselves Financial Restrictions
Studies have led to several software implementations that help online casino players reduce the risk of becoming a problem gambler. These software implementations assist casino members in lowering the chances of financial problems as a direct result of gambling.
Under your casino’s responsible gambling section, the software helps:
- Prevent people from chasing their losses
- Betting more than they can afford
- To set a weekly budget
- Avoid tilting by setting a cool off period
Here is a list of all the options online casino players have:
Setting Deposit Limits
Every respectable online casino will give its members the chance to set a deposit limit.
This is a self-imposed and is commonly set to 1 week and cannot be changed for 7 days once set. Therefore, if my budget is £100 per week, I can set my deposit limit at £100 for the week, and the casino will not let me deposit more than this amount.
Self-imposed deposit limits are an accumulative amount for the entire week not to be mistaken as 1-time deposit restrictions. For instance, if I made 2 £50 deposits and attempted a 3rd £50 deposit, I would be denied until the 7-day limit is over.
Other deposit limit restrictions:
- Are deposit match bonuses included in the deposit limit?
No. The self-imposed deposit limit is there only to restrict the amount of physical cash you deposit into your casino account. Any bonus cash on top of this is not counted towards the accumulative amount deposited for the week.
- Can you change your self-imposed deposit limit?
You can only change a self-imposed deposit limit after the time that you have set. At the end of that period, you can either remove the deposit limit, change it, or reset it. Daily limit restrictions reset in 24 hours, weekly after 7 days, and monthly restrictions will allow you to change them after 1 month.
- Where do I set my deposit limit?
Go to the responsible gambling section of your online casino from your app or web browser. You will find amongst several other options the area for ‘self-imposed deposit limits’.
Restrict Table Limits
Some people are susceptible to chasing their losses. This feature is not available on all casinos, but it is slowly becoming increasingly common.
A common line of thought is: “I have been so unlucky and need to chase my losses. Surely, I am about to get lucky, and so I should play at higher limits”.
This thought pattern has led many a gambler into further financial difficulty. For those that can identify with this line of thought, the restrict table limit option is perfect.
Set your max per bet amount for the week, and then enter your username and password, and confirm. You will now be unable to bet on games higher than the limit you have set yourself.
You can also set this to ‘don’t play’, which means that you will not be able to play casino cash games for 1 week. However, slots and blackjack tournaments will still be accessible.
- Can I change my mind after I have restricted my table limit?
Your table limit restriction will be in effect usually at least 1 week. During that time, there is no way to change the setting even if you happened to set the restriction by mistake. However, some casino will allow you to change the limit at any time, but it will take 24 hours for the change to be approved and take effect.
This option gives you the ability to exclude yourself from all real money games at your online casino. It is the toughest restriction that you can set yourself, and it is also irreversible.
This is a useful feature in the responsible gambling section if you feel that you need a cooling off period.
You can restrict yourself for:
- 12 hours (Cooling off period)
- 24 hours (Cooling off period)
- 7 days (Time-out)
- 30 days (Time-out)
- 180 days (Self-exclusion)
- 1 to 5 years (Self-exclusion)
These are the most common time periods that you can restrict yourself from playing.
- Can I change my mind after I have self-excluded myself?
No. It is worth noting that as mentioned above, once you set your self-exclusion, you will not be able to change it no matter how much you try to contact support. The standard response will always be the same. You must wait until your exclusion period has expired before being able to play for real money.
- Can I still make withdrawals?
Yes. Any cash you have remaining in your casino account can be withdrawn as long as it meets the minimum withdrawal requirement.
- Will I still be able to logon to play money games?
Yes, you can still log on to your casino account. In fact, you will not be restricted from playing on the play chip games at the casino because these are no real money games. However, if your casino gives you the option to buy play chips, you will not be able to do so because self-exclusion also excludes you from making any financial deposits.
This is not common in all casino just yet; however, some online casinos offer the chance to just restrict yourself from playing certain games.
For example, if you feel you have a problem with slots, but you have games such as Blackjack under control, then you can exclude yourself from slots.
- Can I change my mind after I have restricted myself from playing a game?
Yes. However, any changes you make to your restricted game settings will only take effect after 24 hours, which is the time review time the casino sets; otherwise, if players were able to make instant changes, this would be a pointless exercise.
Another very useful function is the reality check tool. You can set a timer to remind you how long you have been playing for. The reminder will pop up and give you the option to continue playing or exit the games.
- How have reality checks become a success?
There have been quite a few online casino players that have praised the reality check tool because it puts into perspective how long they have really been playing for. Nonetheless, although this is the tools intention, it also has unseen benefits.
- Can persuade someone to quit while they are ahead
It also gives them the opportunity to quit while they are ahead; whereas, in the past with no reality check popping up, they player may just continue playing and lose their winnings.
- Can persuade someone to quit and not chase their losses
For those that have spontaneous reactions or act on impulse. If a player is having a run of bad results, the reality check can pop up and persuade that person to quit on impulse.
- Keeps disciplined gamblers in check
Finally, for those that are extremely disciplined players and play strategically with set sessions times, the reality check is a great tool. No need to set an alarm on your phone or use a stopwatch. The reality check will pop up with the quit option at the end of the set session time. The play will then just quit not playing over their pre-set session time.
If you are looking for your reality check tool, it should be under the player protection or responsible gambling area of your online casino.
Gambling Addiction Tests
With so much software in place to help players avoid falling into common trends that can lead to problem gambling, online casinos have done a great job. However, not everyone uses the responsible gambling tools made available to them.
Of course, if you are sure that you play casino games well within your means, then there is generally no need to use any of the software tools.
Why should I consider using responsible gambling software tools?
There are several reasons or indicators that may mean you need to control the way you gamble. If you do not want to stop gambling altogether, but your gambling habits are causing you problem, then your only choice might be to start regularly applying restrictions on your play.
Here are just 4 from 100s of reasons that may indicate you have a minor or even major gambling problem:
- gambling regularly causes financial difficulties
- getting into debt gambling
- playing casino games is affecting your sleep
- late for work due to gambling
- chase your losses going over your budget
Take the gambling addiction test if any of these factors regularly affect you as a direct result of online gambling.
What is the gambling addiction test?
There are several ‘Help for online gambling addiction’ websites on the Web that have a gambling addiction test. Some of them such as Gamblers Anonymous have a set of questions that you can answer, and they will analyse to let you know if there any potential that you could have a gambling problem.
10 Questions in the test:
- Do you lose time off work or your education due to gambling?
- Has gambling made you feel depressed or angry?
- Has your reputation ever been negatively affected by gambling?
- Have you ever felt guilty after gambling?
- Have you ever gambled to try to pay off debts or bills?
- After a loss, do you often feel like you need to return to the game to chase your losses?
- After a win, do you often feel like you need to return to win more?
- Has gambling ever gotten in the way of your ambitions or goals?
- Do you gamble until you are flat broke?
- Do you use debt to finance your gambling?
- Have you ever wanted to commit a crime to finance gambling?
- Does gambling ever make you lose sleep?
- Have you ever put gambling before normal expenditure?
- Have you ever gambled to make yourself feel better?
- Has frustration from gambling ever caused you to create arguments?
Different tests will have different questions, or they can have more or less questions, and they will be quite intrusive to your gambling habits. In the above test, if you answer Yes to more than 7 questions, then this shows that there are signs of gambling addiction.
You should note each problem that you think you may have and contact or research how you can fix each issue, so they do not become blown out of proportion. Some of these problems tend to build up over time, so you may take the test now and few apply to you, but in the future, you may find yourself picking up bad habits.
Gambling Awareness is important even if you do not have a gambling problem
Awareness of the elements that can lead to you becoming a problem gambler is always good to have. If you have read the 15 questions above, then you will understand and be able to predict whether gambling is becoming a problem in the future.
Here are some websites you can take the gambling addiction test:
Myths & Fact
Denial is one of the key problems that can turn a bad gambling habit into an absolutely disastrous gambling habit. Gambling problems usually come in stages, and as the problem gets worse, the more potential of the addiction has at destroying someone’s life.
However, this does not mean to say that are not those that can become instantly hooked. This is why we have formed a list gambling addiction myths and facts.
10 Myths of Problem Gamblers and Facts that Debunk Each Myth
- Myth: Problem Gamblers Gamble Daily
Fact: A problem gamblers routine is not always the key identifier. Some gamblers will be flat broke for weeks, then as soon as they get some cash, they will go immediately to bet it all. For others, they may not gamble daily and instead the problem is how much they bet and the financial consequences of their gambling habit.
- Myth: You only have a gambling problem if you lose all your money
Fact: There are so many extremes that indicate gambling is a problem. The very worst can admittedly be when someone has gambled all their money away – including savings, their house, and built up a mountain of debt. However, this happens because it was too late for these people.
Problem gambling begins with much less severe signals that could eventually lead to losing all your money. Seeing and recognising those signals early on can help prevent people from financial disaster.
- Myth: Becoming addicted to gambling is not possible
Fact: Gambling may not be a physical addiction like cigarettes. Instead, for those that have a gambling problem, it has a huge psychological effect on them. It is an impulse or craving that makes gambling what we call a psychological addiction. It creates a euphoria in people that makes them feel the need to bet more, win more, or chase their losses.
Another danger is that people can gain a tolerance to gambling. At first the high stakes can be nerve racking, but after a while a problem gambler can grow immune to the risk and the financial consequences that gambling is having on them. This is the exact reason people end up in financial ruin.
- Myth: A gambling problem is only financially related
Fact: In research conducted by the National Council on Problem Gambling states that a gambling problem is an emotional issue. Even the very wealthy can have a gambling problem. The problem is more related to an irrepressible obsession a person has with gambling rather the amount of money lost.
- Myth: Only those that are irresponsible become addictive gamblers
Fact: One mistake many people addicted to gambling make is by believing that only the weak and uneducated become addicted to gambling. They tend to overlook themselves. Gambling can affect anyone no matter how responsible they are. Judges, police, teachers, doctors, even those that have strict religion can be and have been caught up in gambling, and it has grown into a problem for them.
- Myth: Compulsive gamblers are criminals
Fact: As mentioned in point 5, anyone can get caught up with a gambling problem. Although, some problem gambler can get caught up in crime because they want to either pay off debts from gambling or feed their gambling habits. Nonetheless, even those that would never consider committing a crime can become problem gamblers.
- Myth: Compulsive gamblers will wager any bet available
Fact: Although there are those that will bet on anything, most compulsive gamblers have a particular style of game that they like to wager. Someone that bets on horses on a weekly basis may not be tempted by betting on Roulette or slot games. Spotting this type of problem gambler can be difficult at times because many people just assume someone only has a problem if they continuously bet.
- Myth: You can help people addicted to gambling by paying off their debts
Fact: Some problem gamblers will say they gamble because they are in debt. In fact, paying off their debt will most likely do more harm than good. There is no lesson for them to learn, and the chances are a someone addicted to gambling will then try to get ahead by continuing to gamble. This type of behaviour usually lands them back into debt and puts a negative strain on relationships with others.
- Myth: Gambling is the main reason problem gamblers fail in relationships
Fact: It is not so much the gambling itself all the time, although time spent gambling instead of being affectionate can break down relationships. Most of the time, a partner that does not gamble say it is the miss-trust and lying that is the main reason they end their relationship with someone that has a gambling problem.
- Myth: It is easy to spot someone with a gambling problem
Having a gambling addition can be a ‘hidden addiction’. Whereas drugs and alcohol have obvious effects on addicts, those addicted to gambling do not have the obvious symptoms. In fact, if you re-read the 15 questions in the addicted gamblers test above, someone may only answer yes to a few of these questions. It is the progressive path to addiction that is hard to spot. Many problem gamblers suffer from self-denial too, so may not answer all the questions honestly or realistically.
What are the Signs and symptoms of problem gambling
There are so many signs that can point towards someone having a gambling addiction that you only need to pick out 5 to begin to identify someone with a gambling problem or someone at risk of developing a gambling addiction problem.
One of the biggest problems with gambling is the dopamine increase it can produce in some people. It is the same as people that play sport or like to run or cycle. The exercise releases endorphins and eventually that person will continue with the activity because it makes them feel happy.
Gambling and the risk that goes with it also releases endorphins, and whereas exercise is for the most part free and good for you, gambling is not free and an uncontrollable desire to gamble creates no benefits for the person experiencing these cravings.
Here is a list of some of the most common symptoms problem gamblers portray.
- Chasing losses by depositing more money or not quitting
- Gambling to counter depression
- Compulsive lying about finances or what they were doing
- Borrowing money all the time – debt problems
- Increasing stakes because they want to increase the risk
- Cannot stop talking about or thinking about gambling
- Feeling the need to gamble
- Committing crimes to get money to fund gambling
- Stealing from friends or family
Less obvious signs that could be related to a gambling problem:
- Being late for work/study or taking regular sick days or breaktimes
- Becomes unusually or easily agitated – causes arguments
- Someone becomes less social because gambling is taking precedence
How does a non-gambler identify a friend or loved one with a gambling addiction?
All of these signs of addictive gambling can be hard to spot if you are not a gambler. Nonetheless, many of them can be used to identify someone with an addiction. As having a gambling addiction is labelled a ‘hidden addiction’, it could be that someone you know has developed some of these symptoms, but you can’t identify why.
At first many people that spot a change in a loved one or friend’s behaviour start with the worst fears that point towards possible drug or alcohol related addiction. This can be confusing because the physical signs of these 2 habits are not there.
If you think that a loved one or friend is displaying unusual or uncommon personality changes but cannot put your finger on what, and that someone is displaying some of the traits mentioned above, then there is a high possibility that the person in question could have a gambling problem.
Thankfully there are plenty of people working on the edge of the gambling industry that are there solely to help those that have developed or may at risk of developing a gambling problem.
This may sound surprising, but one of the first places to look for advice on gambling is your own online casino. If you are researching a loved one or friend, then you can try to find out if they play at an online casino and look for advise there.
Many of the gambling addiction websites have the following:
- LIVE chat facilities so you can speak with an advisor
- Emails and telephone facilities
- Myths and Facts about spotting a gambling addiction
- Gambling addiction tests
- Signs of a gambling addiction
- Recovery programs
- Advice on local groups for those with a gambling problem
- Help for family and friends
Around the world from USA, Europe, Oceania, to Asia, there are websites out there that have plenty of advice on how to deal with someone or with yourself when it comes to combating a problem with gambling.
Here we have complied a list of places to get help
You can contact a professional and even use a toll free number for Canadian National Problem Online Casino & Gambling Helpline Networks:
Canadian Problem Online Casinos Gambling Helpline – The Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline.
Gamblers Anonymous Help – Get help and information about compulsive online gamblers fellowship support groups.
http://www.ccgr.org.uk/ (Chinese and English)
UK Financial Help For Those in Debt Due To Gambling
You may also need debt support depending on how bad your situation is. In the UK there are several debt support agencies. For USA, and Australia, the debt support is not as supportive as in the UK, and gambling debts are more frowned upon. However, if you are a UK citizen, and you have debt due to gambling, then there is plenty of support.