Games of chance like slots, blackjack, bingo, and others can be a lot of fun. Millions of people enjoy these games daily both at physical gambling venues and online casinos. However, people sometimes lose sight of the fact that they should be having fun. Gambling can become a problem to one extent or another when this happens.
Uncontrolled gambling will often lead people into financial pitfalls. Warning signs of gambling addiction might be tough to accept, but there is help from the gambling industry itself and others.
Statistics about Problem Gambling
According to some estimates, about 85% of American adults gamble. That number stands between 61% and 73% in the UK and over 80% in Australia.
The number of people who lose control of their gambling activities is much smaller but still alarming.
Millions of people in the US, the UK, and Australia go into debt as a direct result of gambling addiction. In the United States, the average amount lost to uncontrolled gambling is $55,000.
Financial loss from gambling addiction leads many people to borrow money to try to stay one step ahead of their losses. This is a hole that keeps getting deeper and deeper for many as they exhaust savings, credit card limits, and what they are able to borrow.
Signs of Gambling Addiction
It is not always easy for people to realize that gambling has become a serious problem. Some common signs of gambling addiction to watching out for include:
- Hiding money for gambling purposes.
- Chasing losses by betting more and more.
- Selling valuables to obtain a gambling bankroll.
- Being unable to shake the thought or urge to gamble.
- Lying to friends/family about gambling activities.
Steps toward Recovery
You have to accept a gambling addiction before recovering from it and getting your finances back into order. Here are some steps that you can focus on:
1. Decide to quit gambling
This might seem obvious to some, but it isn’t. Telling yourself, you will stop is not the same as making a conscious decision to quit whatever you have to do. Some people find that physically writing this goal down makes it more real for them.
2. Get help
The gambling industry goes out of its way to promote awareness of problem gambling. Likewise, governments and private institutions offer help for gambling addiction in the name of social responsibility. Some institutions you might to turn to for use include:
- You can contact The National Council on Problem Gambling in the USA from all 50 states.
- GamCare provides information and other resources free of charge for gambling addiction in the UK.
- In Australia, the Department of Social Services gives out information for those in need of help with gambling issues.
Most online casinos offer members a self-exclusion option in accordance to responsible gambling practices.
4. Take financial steps
Think of where your gambling money comes from. For many, this will be credit cards. Cancel those credit cards or have your bank deny payment to gambling institutions if possible. If you have a substantial amount of cash, put it in your spouse’s or a family member’s account. This will keep your cash out of reach if you suddenly feel the compulsion to place an irrational bet.
Dealing with Gambling Debt
Gambling debt can be daunting. Anyone in a financial crisis because of problem gambling can easily assume that there is no way out. There are several effective ways for you to deal with your gambling debt.
Debt consolidation will allow you to put all your credit card debt together and take on a single loan. Your loan’s interest rate will depend on your credit score but should end up being much preferable to what you are currently tied to.
Banks and other lending institutions regularly agree to take a percentage of what they are owed. The rest is forgiven as part of the agreement, and you are no longer liable for it. You may have to pay back the agreed-to amount in one sum or accept a payment plan.
No one likes to think about bankruptcy but it can be a way out of overwhelming debt. Most experts agree that bankruptcy should be the last option. While the previous options and others will work in most cases, this one is best suited to those who owe much more than they can ever pay reasonably payback.
Falling into a deep hole with gambling debt is a problem with many possible solutions. Once you recognize the warning signs of gambling addiction, it is imperative to take action before that hole gets deeper.
If you still choose to gamble, no financial help for gamblers option is likely to work. Commit to turning your gambling addiction around, and things can change for the better, financially and otherwise.