Problem Gambling    

What Is Problem Gambling?

There are gamblers who can enjoy the activity as a healthy form of entertainment, and there are those for whom it simply means much, much more. Those are "problem" gamblers.

Problem gambling is defined by the National Council on Problem Gambling as " gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational." There is virtually no difference between the term "problem gambling" and "compulsive gambling" in the respect that either of them means that the person afflicted feels a certain "need" to continue to gambling and is very restless when there is an attempt to stop such behavior; that the consequences that are associated with the behavior are never really taken into account, and that winning or losing takes a back seat to the action itself. You have heard the term "the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing"? Well, magnify that by about a hundred and you'll get an appropriate profile of what the problem gambler is all about.

Problem Gambling Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Do you have a gambling problem? Try asking yourself these 20 questions and make an assessment of yourself:

  • Have you ever had to stay home from work or missed school due to your gambling?
  • Has gambling ever adversely affected your home life?
  • Has your reputation become damaged because of your gambling habit?
  • Are you remorseful after gambling?
  • Have you ever gambled because you thought that was the way you would get out of financial difficulty or crisis?
  • Does gambling make you less ambitious or decrease you level of efficiency in any aspect of your life?
  • Have you ever felt desperate to chase your losses and win them back?
  • When you have won gambling, have you ever felt you had to go back and win more?
  • Have you regularly gambled until your last dollar was literally gone?
  • Have you ever borrowed money to feed your gambling habit?
  • Have you ever sold anything to support your gambling habit?
  • Were you hesitant to disturb your gambling bankroll in order to pay off basic expenses?
  • Have you ever neglected your own welfare or that of your family because of your gambling?
  • Have you ever gambled longer than you originally intended?
  • Have you ever gambled as a way of curing boredom or escaping life's troubles?
  • Have you ever considered doing something illegal in order to finance your gambling?
  • Did gambling ever cause you to lose sleep?
  • Do conflicts with other people or everyday disappointments prompt you to gamble?
  • Have you ever used gambling as a way of celebrating something good in your life?
  • Have you ever considered doing something to harm yourself because of your gambling?

Please note that if you have answered "yes" to any of these questions, you can consider yourself to have a gambling problem

Self-Exclusion Option to Prevent Gambling Problems

One of the ways in which casinos deal with problem gamblers is to give them the opportunity to, in effect, exclude themselves from being able to play. Basically it's a matter of saving problem gamblers from themselves. Self-exclusion begins with the individual who acknowledges a problem, and there is an agreement that the individual is to be banned from the premises (in the case of land-based casinos) or the website (online casinos). It is not necessarily a permanent thing.

These casinos realize that the people who come to them looking for self-exclusion are interested in helping themselves, but that there is difficulty in doing it alone. That may sound flawed by some, but the program has been effective to a certain extent. Players, after opting for self-exclusion, may attempt to access a site, but they will not succeed, and ultimately they will understand.

It is a credit to those sites who participate in this kind of program that they are interested in providing an environment that is there to feed those seeking enjoyment, not those who are chasing an unhealthy obsession. However, it has to be perceived as a precursor to treatment for it to have its optimum effect.

Problem Gambling Help & Awareness Services (50)

If you have a gambling problem, and are looking for some information on where you can go for help, there are some fine resources you can turn to. The entities below are staffed with experts, and they are on hand to render assistance to people who are interested in addressing their gambling problem:

This website is handled by something called the Responsible Gambling Trust, a charitable organization in the United Kingdom that raises the vast majority of its funds from the gambling industry itself.

The principal concern is education, and indeed the site is very comprehensive, with information about how to recognize a gambling problem and where to get help. It serves as a gateway, directing readers to sources through which they can seek treatment and/or a self-exclusion program, manage gambling activities in a much more judicious fashion, and even find immediate consultation. GambleAware is not the last place a problem gambler should go, but it is a very good place to start.

People who go to casinos online will often see the GamCare logo on the bottom. This is one of the more diligent participants in the effort to combat problem gambling. Anyone who is suffering through a gambling problem can find much of the help that he or she needs through this valuable online resource.

Of course, it is not strictly limited to that which is online either. Residents in the UK can access many other resources. There is a "NetLine" chat service where problem gamblers can immediately talk to an advisor, and a GamCare "HelpLine" to talk to someone on the phone. Face-to-face counseling can also be made available.

The National Council on Problem Gambling deals with the subject of problem gambling from every possible angle and also provides a valuable gateway for information from other sources.

The NCPG considers part of its mission to spread awareness of the problem, offering possible ways to address the issues that are most critical. The organization, which was established more than 40 years ago, is involved with many special programs and services, not the least of which is the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, an 800 number that people can call and get information on all the local resources in their area.

They also hold an annual nationwide forum, the National Conference on Problem Gambling, which features many speakers who are experts in the field and can be attended by recovering problem gamblers.

Modeled along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, this organization involves problem gamblers sharing their experiences with each other as a way of assisting each other in recovery. It is supported by contributions.

The general requirement is that "members" recognize that they cannot control their gambling problem.

The website contains an apparatus by which anyone can find a meeting in the United States and internationally. There are different kinds of meetings; "closed" meetings are only for those who feel they have a gambling problem. The "open" meetings are just that; open to family and friends of the problem gambler who may have been affected by the destructive behavior.

This website is sponsored by the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario and is designed to assist problem gamblers in Canada. The institute itself has both treatment professionals and those who have done extensive research into the area of problem gambling. And they boast the largest specialized gambling treatment program in Ontario.

There are plenty of self-help gambling tools on the site, and the idea is that the reader will be able to make a very astute self-assessment using these tools. There is a virtual cornucopia of information available, not only for the gambler, but for the families of gamblers who are always going to be affected.

The organization also makes a 24-hour helpline available for problem gamblers (1-888-230-3505).

This is an Australian government resource, and the website loaded with information in the form of news, video, data and testimonials that is designed to provide the most comprehensive collection of reference material available for citizens who may know or suspect that they are experiencing a problem with their gambling.

If one is looking for fact sheets on just about anything, they can find it at this website. The central theme is the negative impact that gambling can have on the lives of people who do not know how to handle it properly, and documenting exactly how that happens. There is an extension section in which the subject of gambling reform is also addressed. If one is interested in actually listening to problem gamblers tell their own stories, this is without question the top source available.