The numbers are counting down, your palms are sweating, your heart rate is flying and your pulse is racing, another roomie types ‘2 TG’ in the chat window, and you know that somebody is about to beat you to the jackpot. You’re so close to that big win, the win that changes everything, the win that will let you pay off those debts and still have money left over for a life-changing holiday in the sunshine, this is it. But no, you’re pipped at the post and another player scoops the prize from your hands. Next time though, next time you’ll win, you have to. What started as a fun hobby, has become an obsession that is controlling every aspect of your life. In seemingly no time you have gone from a couple of games after work, to spending your entire monthly wage trying to win back the money you lost the month before.
GAMBLING ADDICTION DENIAL
You find yourself playing at every available moment, on your computer, on your phone during breaks at work, under the table at a family gathering, you’re playing in secret, more and more bills are going unpaid, you’ve started taking ‘sick days’ from work to win back your losses, but it’s not a problem right? Your partner is worrying, there’s money missing from your joint account that can’t be explained, they’re asking if you are okay, you tell them you’re fine, obviously, you’d be better if they stopped distracting you from your favourite slot game, you’re about to win big! You don’t need help, help is for people with an illness, you don’t have an illness, you just enjoy playing a game, and how else are you going to clear that growing overdraft? Truth is, it is unlikely that you are going to get a win big enough to clear the debts you’ve already mounted up, you will spiral deeper into addiction, throwing more bad money after good, something has to be done. This is sadly the path taken by a small proportion of players. Players who get hooked on the thrill of the game and sink deeper into debt. It is vital that you spot these signs before a small problem becomes something that affects every part of your life. Have a look at these questions, and if you answer yes to the majority, then perhaps it’s time to seek help with a charity such as Gamcare. 1. Have other people ever criticised your gambling habits? 2. Have you ever lied to cover up the amount of time and money you spend on gambling? 3. Have you lost interest in your family, friends, or pastimes as a result of gambling? 4. If you lose, do you try to win back your losses as soon as possible? 5. Do you gamble alone, for long periods of time? 6. Do you play until all your money is gone? 7. Have you ever lied, borrowed, or stolen to get gambling money or to pay gambling debts? 8. Do you ever feel depressed or suicidal because of your gambling habits?
GAMCARE CAN HELP
Gamcare is an independent charity which provides support, information and advice to those suffering from gambling addiction. They offer support in several different forms, including face-to-face counselling. There are Gamcare advisers in virtually every region, and there is an interactive map on the Gamcare website showing where you can find your nearest counsellor. Gamcare also offer online counselling for those who are unable to reach a counsellor for a face-to-face meeting. These online sessions are 50 minute webcam conversations which take place at the same time and the same day every week. Gamcare also offer short-term residential counselling at Broadway Lodge, on the outskirts of Weston-Super-Mare. The program is accredited by the European Association for the Treatment of Addiction. For somebody with a compulsive gambling disorder, it can sometimes feel like it is impossible to escape the call of online gambling. Gambling addiction is by no means limited to bingo players, with scratch cards, poker, roulette, slot games and various other games readily available from various sites, which are advertised on the internet and on television, it can be very difficult for someone with a problem to separate themselves from the world of online gambling. This constant temptation is likely to make compulsive tendencies worse, a player can completely understand the damage they are doing to themselves, their family, their loved ones, but they cannot stop. Whether a player is up or down, free or busy, depressed or delirious, flush or broke, even if they can’t afford to lose, a gambling addiction means they cannot stop betting. Bingo chat rooms are friendly, welcoming places where you can meet like-minded people, communicating with other players, even those without a problem, can help an addict validate their activity. Whether a player has turned to gambling due to stress, depression, loneliness, anxiety, financial issues or fear, it can be very difficult to disconnect from the habit, as much for the social aspect as the gambling itself. There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to keep you away from gambling. For instance, you can’t play without money – so get rid of your credit cards, let somebody else be in charge of your bank account, and keep a limited amount of cash in your pocket at all times. It’s also hard to gamble if you don’t have enough time. Schedule recreational activities with your family, take up a new hobby, and plan outings. Anything that doesn’t involve gambling is good and rekindling the relationships with those closest to you can remind you of what is important.
SELF-EXCLUSION FROM GAMBLING
It’s also possible to block gambling sites from your computer, and to self-exclude from bingo sites. The first part of solving the problem is admitting you have a problem, so ask yourself the difficult question, ask yourself if you are developing, or already have a problem, and be honest with yourself, because you will know if you’re lying. Once you have admitted that you have a problem, then you can look for help. You are now ready to contact a charity like Gamcare, who can and will help you. The links to such charities can be found at the bottom of all UK regulated bingo sites.