Unfortunately, not everyone who decides to enter the world of real money gambling should be doing it. A small but real percentage of the general population is predisposed to problem gambling, an addiction and mental disorder that is considered as dangerous as alcoholism. Left unchecked, problem gambling can lead to financial ruin, job and relationship loss and even suicide, so it's a serious issue. Fortunately, there are ways to recognize it before it gets to that point, as well as resources to prevent it or treat it if necessary.
More About Problem Gambling
When people become problem gamblers, they end up losing the impulse control that tells people without it when to stop. Problem gamblers are addicted to the thrill of gaming, and they will do so without regard to their financial situation, and sometimes even their health. You can't assume that people have problems just by seeing them play for big money, because some gamblers can afford to play quite normally for sums that most of us couldn't afford. Instead, what to look for are patterns of behavior that can tip off a gambling problem.
Some signs of problem gambling are ignoring work and family to gamble, lying about gambling losses, gambling to pay back debts or borrowing money to finance gambling, and neglecting things like sleep, food and personal hygiene. Depression and suicidal thoughts can also accompany these symptoms. In physical casinos, staff and regulators are trained to watch for these warning signs and suggest that people get help if necessary. The situation is necessarily different when it comes to online casinos, but there are still some safeguards in place.
If you think you are at risk for developing problem gambling, there are voluntary steps you can take to keep things under control. Online casinos allow both time and monetary limits to be set on deposits, ensuring that you aren't committing more money to your online bankroll than you can afford. They can also close down your account entirely, though again, this is a step that you need to take for yourself.
Almost every jurisdiction that allows legal gambling also has phone lines and internet sites set up and staffed by people who are trained to help problem gamblers. Make use of these resources if you need to, or recommend them to friends and family. The ultimate decision to get help has to be made by the problem gambler, but he or she can be pointed in the right direction if it becomes necessary to do so.
- Problem Gambling Guide - Good resource for gambling addicts.
- Wikipedia Problem Gambling - Good resource if you think you have a problem.
- Help for Australians - If you're an Aussie go here for gambling problem.
- Help for Americans - If you're from the US go here for gambling problem.
- Help for Canadians - If you're from Canada go here for gambling problem.