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Problem gambling has been defined as the situation in which the player is unable to limit the amount of money or time he spends on gambling. Problem gambling affects not only the gambler but also his family and friends. Less than 1% of the population suffers from of problem gambling, but it does not help if you fall in that 1%. Therefore it is essential to engage in responsible gambling practices so that you do not fall victim to this malaise.
Identifying Problem Gambling
Online gambling should be an entertainment activity. You do spend money on online gambling, but you spend it on other forms of entertainment as well. The difference is that in online gambling you expect to win back the money. But you know that there are times that you will win and times that you will lose and you should be comfortable with this situation. The moment that winning becomes an obsession indicates the onset of problem gambling. Another early indicator of problem gambling is that you feel uneasy when you are not gambling. The difficulty is that these situations do not appear in perceptible measure suddenly. They slowly creep in over a period of time and when you recognise them it is often too late.
Therefore you should not leave the identification of problem gambling symptoms to chance. Nor should you assume that you can never be a victim to problem gambling. Quite often your family, friends or work colleagues will recognise the symptoms before you do. So listen to them when they point out that you are spending more than usual time gambling online. There are times when you will have noticed changes in your behaviour or activity pattern. If you feel that they are linked to excessive online gambling do not ignore the situation.
As in any illness, early detection and treatment will lead to a simpler and up less costly cure. So if you experience the symptoms of up problem gambling do seek advice. There is no shame in discussing this problem with family and friends.
Problem Gambling Self-Test
As mentioned earlier it is very easy to miss the symptoms of problem gambling unless you are specifically looking for them. In order to help you of them gambling self-tests have been devised by the experts in this field. You will find them under the responsible gambling section all the Australian online casinos that we have recommended. You should make it the practice of taking these tests at least once in every six months if not more frequently. A sample of the questions asked in the self-test is given below.
- There are questions related to the time and money spent on online gambling.
- Are you spending more money on online gambling than you budgeted?
- Are you spending more time on online gambling than you intended?
- Is your online gambling budget increasing steadily?
- There are questions related to the financial implications of online gambling.
- Do you borrow money in order to gamble online?
- Have you sold any assets in order to fund your online gambling activity?
- Is there regular delay in paying your household bills because funds have been diverted to online gambling?
- There are questions related to behavioural and social issues.
- Do you need to gamble with greater amounts of money feel the same excitement?
- Do you feel guilty about gambling online?
- Have your family and friends been complaining of neglect?
- Is online gambling causing health problems like anxiety or lack of sleep?
- If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then you immediately need to take steps to solve the problem.
Solutions to Problem Gambling
The first step in solving your problem gambling issue is to accept that you have a problem. Unless you accept that you have a problem you will not be really looking for solutions. You should immediately discuss the situation with those close to you. It may be your spouse, your parent or your friend. This support will make it easier for you to tackle the problem. For example, spending more quality time with family or friends will reduce the desire for compulsive gambling.
You should simultaneously opt for a cooling off period from your online casino or casinos. All our recommended online casinos offer this facility. The cooling off period may vary from a few days to a few weeks. Some online casinos allow to you activate this yourself. At other online casinos you may have to go through customer support. During the cooling off period you will be denied access to the online casino.
After the cooling off period if you feel confident of returning to online gambling then do so. However, take this call after discussing the issue with those close to you. Be more watchful and take the self-test more frequently. If at any time you feel that the problem has not been solved then you need to take the next and more severe step immediately. You should self-exclude yourself from the online casinos. This means staying away from the online casino for longer periods, maybe several months. You should also simultaneously seek professional help from one of the expert organisations. More about this is discussed in the next section.
Problem Gambling Help in Australia
The social cost to the community of problem gambling in Australia is estimated to be at least $4.7 billion a year. Therefore the government supports and encourages professional guidance for solving problem gambling. There are several organisations that offer expert assistance and counselling free of cost. Some of these are GamblingHelpOnline.org.au and ProblemGambling.gov.au. All of them have units in each state.
Problem gambling is a sensitive issue and those who suffer from it do not readily come into the public domain. As a starting point you can go through the online literature that each of the above organisations puts up at its web site. Then the initial interaction with a counsellor is best done online with complete anonymity and confidentiality. You can get support through e-mail but accessing a counsellor through live chat is better. You can also join online forums where you can interact with others like you. Knowing that yours is not an isolated case will give you the confidence and courage to fight.
At some stage the counselling would progress to face to face meetings. These will include discussions on factors that trigger problem gambling behaviour, methods of sorting out the financial issues that have arisen and preventive methods that should be adopted for the future.