Gambling should be an enjoyable leisure activity. Sadly, for a minority of people, it can become a source of serious, negative issues. It is essential for operators to promote responsible gambling and for bettors, and those close to them, to be able to identify problem gambling and know where to get help should the need arise.
What is gambling addiction? As with any compulsive behavior, one of the clearest signs of gambling addiction is an inability to control the urge to gamble. If you worry that you are no longer in control of the level of your gambling, there are several questions you can ask yourself. They include:
• How often do you gamble more than you can afford to lose?
• Does gambling ever cause you stress, anxiety or depression?
• Has gambling ever caused you or those close to you financial problems?
If your answers to any of those questions give you cause for concern, it may be time to reach out for help from professionals trained in this field.
It can be incredibly difficult to watch a friend or a family member who is demonstrating signs of gambling addiction. In these circumstances, it is important to offer support and practical assistance in helping them bring their gambling under control. If you feel that you need professional advice to help the person concerned, there are several agencies available with the experience to make a real difference and offer gambling addiction treatment.
Wherever you are in the world, you can contact organizations, such as Gamblers Anonymous or the National Council on Problem Gambling, with extensive knowledge in this field to help you and those close to you.
There are numerous local, national and international organizations with extensive experience in offering those suffering from gambling addiction help with bringing their activities under control – or stopping them completely.
Gamblers Anonymous International: A global organization that has been working to help gamblers since 1957.
National Council on Problem Gambling: Works across the United States to offer gambling addiction treatment and advice.
Mayo Clinic: Part of its service is extensive advice and practical assistance if you are suffering with gambling addiction.
Addiction Center: American organization that brings in-depth expertise to the question of how to stop gambling addiction.
The Recovery Village: US-based body that offers expertise and advice to people who fear their gambling is out of control.
Get Set Before You Bet: Ohio-based organization with insight and support for those who have concerns about their gambling.
Responsible Gambling Council: Recognized as the principal source of assistance in Canada for people suffering with gambling addiction.
Problem Gambling: Canadian organization that offers a wealth of self-help tools to combat gambling addiction and promote responsible gambling.
iGaming Ontario: The organization that administers gambling in Canada’s most populous province has a strong focus on responsible gambling.
Gamcare UK: The leading provider of resources, advice and practical help for people in the UK facing gambling addiction problems.
Be Gamble Aware UK: Offers support to people suffering with gambling addiction, and to those close to them.
Whether you call it the margin, the juice or the vig, this is what gives the house the edge in any form of gambling including sports betting. If you combine the probabilities of each contender in a race winning expressed as a percentage, the total is obviously 100%. But if you add together the odds set by a sportsbook, it will come to more than 100%.
That difference is the margin – which is where sportsbooks make a living. Over time, those extra percentage points in every event they bet on represent the profit made by operators. It may seem a little unfair – but remember, without sportsbooks being in business to offer markets, we wouldn’t be able to place a bet.
No, you don’t. Anybody can back a winner, even if you make your selection because you like a contender’s name or the colors a team is wearing. However, in the long term you will be more successful in your wagering if you understand the sport in question.
If you don’t have time to build up your expertise in a sport, don’t worry – there are people out there who do. It is worth keeping a note of how well a tipster’s selections fare, though. Some are definitely better than others, but it’s important to remember that no tipster guarantees a winning return.
This depends on how you approach sports betting. If you want to back a winner, and don’t care how much or how little your return is, go for favorites. If you prefer the prospect of bigger winnings – and take the bigger risk that the bet will fail – the underdog is for you.
It's hard to land a parlay bet – and the more selections you add to your wager, the harder it becomes. But that doesn’t mean they never win. The excitement of following your selections with the prospect of a large payout for a small stake can be a lot of fun, and can be very rewarding when you get it right.
Sports bettors tend to be extraordinarily superstitious, and will often bounce between feeling certain that at any particular time they cannot win – or cannot lose. However, the competitors you are betting on are completely unaware of your current fortunes. Each betting event should be seen and assessed completely in its own right.
When it comes to the factors that govern success in sport, there is a broad spectrum with luck at one end and skill at the other – as seen in the graphic above, based on Michael Mauboussin’s investigation in the book ‘The Success Equation’.
Some betting activities, such as roulette and the lottery, involve no skill at all. Ignore anybody who tells you they have a sure-fire system; these games are pure chance. At the other end of the spectrum are pastimes such as chess. They require an incredible level of skill, dedication and knowledge if you are to win. Between those extremes lie sports where luck is sometimes a factor – but as many a successful sportsperson has said, the harder they work on their skills, the luckier they become.
Many sportsbooks limit the amount of money you can deposit into your account at any time, or over a particular period such as a week or a month. This ensures that if you are tempted to keep wagering, you simply don’t have the cash available.
You can set a time limit, after which your online sportsbook will alert you to how long you have been logged in. This can encourage you to take a break and step away before you have wagered more than you can afford.
If you are concerned about the level of your betting, and the amount of money you are spending on it, you can voluntarily take a break of between one and 30 days. Only once that time is up will you be able to log in again.
Many betting operators now make it easy to work out how much you have staked, lost or won over recent days, weeks or months. This will help you to monitor the level of your wagering. The amounts involved could come as a surprise, and encourage you to rein yourself in.
When you are seriously worried that you cannot control your gambling, you can prevent yourself from betting with a particular operator for a specified period, from six months up to five years. This is a more drastic version of the cool-off period but is useful for people showing severe gambling addiction symptoms.
This describes the situation in which a gambler simply cannot help themselves, and feels compelled to wager. The urge to bet is so powerful that the sufferer feels unable to resist – and can even be in denial that they have a gambling addiction.
Some gamblers can go for long periods without staking a bet, but once they start, they find it almost impossible to stop. The loss of control may be temporary, but it can cause severe problems, and can lead to the stage of compulsive gambling.
For some problem gamblers, part of the compulsion and addiction is the thrill gained from breaking the rules. This can lead to involvement in plots and scams that rely on inside information and are strictly against the rules that govern most wagering.
Some people with gambling addiction symptoms engage in wagering as a way of alleviating the pressures and stresses that they are suffering in other areas of their lives, such as at home or at work. This can lead to significant losses because they are betting while in a difficult emotional state.
Seek help. If you begin to show signs of gambling addiction, there are many resources available that can be used as gambling addiction treatment. These include responsible gambling tools, plus the support of a host of expert organizations with long experience in this field.
Because it’s exciting. Like many other activities, including drinking alcohol, staking a wager releases a substance called dopamine into the brain. People with gambling addiction symptoms are helpless to resist the lure of that “hit” and are unable to enjoy gambling in moderation.
No. Gambling is not intrinsically bad. The desire to take risks is hard-wired into the human DNA, and has been since the dawn of time. It must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of people who gamble do so in moderation and find it a fun, pleasurable leisure activity.
The inability to stop gambling. Whether it’s sports gambling addiction, or the need to engage in any other form of wagering, some people find themselves unable to resist the temptation to bet. As with any sort of addiction, the key symptom is the inability to control the level or frequency of your gambling.
By looking for help. The good news is that help is available in many forms. There are numerous experienced agencies offering support, insight and practical assistance, while reputable operators have stepped up their commitment to responsible gambling in recent years. The first step, of course, is recognizing that you have a problem with gambling addiction.
There are many tell-tale signs of gambling addiction. Those with in-depth expertise will be able to recognize them. However, the principal indicator that you need gambling addiction treatment is that you are simply unable to control the level of your wagering, both in terms of time spent and money invested.
By using responsible gambling tools. Reputable modern sportsbooks have introduced a range of tools to ensure safe online gambling. These include the options to set a reality check time limit, to take a cool-off period or even to self-exclude from betting with a particular operator. Any of these measures should make it impossible to place bets through the apps on your phone.
There are several signs of gambling addiction to watch out for, but the main one is a sense that you simply cannot control the level of your gambling. When you feel that you are betting too often or too heavily – and are unable to rein yourself in – it is a good idea to check out responsible gambling tools or some of the agencies that assist with gambling addiction.