How to Protect Yourself From Gambling Problems

Gambling is any game of chance or skill in which you stake something valuable, such as money, with the hope of winning a prize. It can include games like slots, roulette, blackjack and poker that you play in brick-and-mortar casinos or online; and events such as lottery draws and sports betting. While many people gamble responsibly, others become addicted to gambling. It is a common problem that can affect anyone, and is often hard to recognise, with some people unable to stop, even when they are losing large amounts of money.

In addition to monetary losses, gambling problems can also cause relationship difficulties, substance misuse and mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Those with untreated gambling problems may attempt suicide, and there is a strong link between mental health issues and problematic gambling.

The main causes of gambling problems include a lack of self-control, poor financial management and underlying mood disorders. It is also possible that certain personal characteristics and environmental factors can make you more susceptible to harmful gambling behaviour. For example, individuals who have mood disorders or a history of trauma are more likely to develop a gambling problem. Some individuals may also be more prone to gambling due to their personality, coping styles or social learning and beliefs.

People who have trouble controlling their gambling tend to spend money they don’t have, and can find it difficult to quit – even when they are losing large sums of money. They may also feel compelled to borrow, sell or steal to continue gambling, or they may avoid talking about their problems with family and friends.

Problem gambling can also affect your work, home life and relationships, putting you at risk of debt and other financial problems. You may start spending money on things you don’t need or even skip meals to keep gambling. If you feel this is a problem, seek help as soon as you can – for free debt advice, contact StepChange.

There are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing a gambling problem. Make sure you only gamble with disposable income and don’t use money that is needed for bills or rent. Try to limit your gambling time and never gamble when you’re depressed or upset. Also, be sure to balance your gambling with other hobbies and activities that you enjoy.

Another way to protect yourself is to learn more about how gambling works and the risks involved. This will help you understand why gambling can be so addictive and how to spot the signs of a problem. You can also get support by speaking to a trained specialist, such as a gambling counselor at a treatment facility or addiction support group. You can also learn more about gambling from our articles on gambling laws, how to gamble responsibly and tips for safe gambling.