Spotting the signs of problem gambling

Written by PayPlan on 5 November 2018

Every year we speak to hundreds of clients who are facing financial problems due to gambling. This isn’t a fiver here and there on an accumulator at weekends, or the occasional flutter on the roulette, though.

Problem gambling, which is estimated to affect around 430,000* people in the UK, means that someone cannot stop gambling even when it begins to seriously affect their life in a negative way. In fact, the number of people who’ve voluntarily disclosed the fact they’ve got a gambling addiction to us has risen from 127 in 2015 to 485 in 2018.

Gambling addiction can affect people of all ages and genders, and people can fall into problem gambling for a variety of reasons. These include being addicted to the thrill of gambling, trying to win back large amounts of money they’ve already lost, or even heavy use of gambling simply to escape reality.

In support of Responsible Gambling Week 2018 we’ve teamed up with GamCare, one of the UK’s largest gambling addiction charities, to help raise awareness of problem gambling and help those affected by it. If you’re concerned about yourself (or even someone you know), here are 5 key signs that could indicate your gambling has spiralled out of control…

1. Overwhelmingly negative emotions
For the majority of people, gambling is a fun pastime – it feels exhilarating when you win, and not too much of a big deal if you lose. Problem gamblers, on the other hand, will take their frustration and anger home with them if they fail to win, or feelings of remorse and shame when they’ve lost a large amount of money (yet continue to gamble anyway).

2. Arguing with friends or family about gambling
When gambling begins to negatively impact a person’s family life, then it’s almost certain that the person is a problem gambler. Gamcare has spoken to countless people who, due to their addiction, have spent their wages on gambling instead of things for their children, or on essential groceries or bills.

3. Gambling for hours on end
People who spend hours upon hours playing fixed-odds betting terminal games like roulette often do so trying to win back what they’ve lost, but inevitably end up losing more. All of these games have been programmed to make minimum pay-outs to the house (betting shop) and will always end up taking more than they give out, regardless of any tactics employed.

4. Lying about gambling
Many people addicted to gambling are well aware of the fact they’re gambling too much, but continue to do it anyway. People like this will also often lie to their friends and family about where they are or what they’ve spent their money on. They may also lie about the amount they’re gambling to try and conceal the fact they’re losing large amounts of money they are losing.

5. Going to extremes to find gambling money
People addicted to gambling will find cash to gamble with even if they have no available funds themselves. Whilst some problem gamblers will take out payday loans to get money, others might steal from friends or family, or even commit forgery to feed their habit.

Remember, it’s good to talk!
Often the first step to seeking help is to talk to someone about it, so we’ve launched our Let’s Talk About Debt campaign to break down the barriers that prevent people seeking help for their debts, whether these arise from an addiction or any other circumstances. Our friendly advisers are non-judgemental and will be understanding and sympathetic to your situation – get debt help online now or give us a call on 0800 280 2816.

If you notice any of the traits above in yourself or someone you know and would like some help or advice on gambling you can contact GamCare online at www.gamcare.org or by calling 0808 8020 133.

* https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/24/problem-gamblers-uk-gambling-commission-report

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