When you consider that people in the UK gambled £13.9bn between October 2016 and September 2017* (the most recent period for which figures are available) then it comes as no surprise that problem gambling is on the rise. These alarming figures highlight the need to understand what ‘safe gambling’ is more than ever before.

What is safe gambling?

Safe gambling can mean different things for different people, and depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, though, safe gambling means gambling to an extent where you can still have fun and enjoy the thrill of winning money without letting gambling have too much of an impact on your life. Figures from GamCare show that The National Gambling Helpline took 28,889 calls in 2017-18 compared to 22,875 in 2013-14*; a worrying indication of the increase in problem gambling.

Gambling impacting your emotions

The moment that gambling begins to have a significant negative impact on your emotions is the point it becomes a problem. Rather than feeling slightly annoyed when losing a bet, problem gamblers can develop mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, extreme mood swings and even suicidal thoughts.

This can lead to arguments in their personal lives with friends and family, something which, unfortunately, only leads to more negative emotions in people addicted to gambling. It’s especially sad that this is the case, because friends and family are the ones who can often help gambling addicts the most if they share their problems with them, rather than hiding them.

Need to gamble?

Another way to tell if you’re a safe gambler is whether or not you ever feel a need to gamble that you can’t resist. The reason causing the overwhelming urge to gamble may vary depending on the individual; some might be doing it as a way to escape their day-to-day life, whilst others may do it in an attempt to win back money that they’ve lost. Others might do it simply because they’re addicted to the thrill of gambling, even when it’s losing them money.


One factor that can help you understand what safe gambling means for you is working out what you can afford. If you’re spending an amount of money that’s inconsequential to your life on gambling, then you’re probably not a problem gambler.

If you’re finding that you’re struggling to make ends meet due to the extent of your gambling, then you may well have a problem. Problem gamblers often spend cash meant for bills, groceries, household items or even their children on their addiction, and more often than not end up losing their money.

For more information about a gambling addiction, please visit GamCare at www.gamcare.org.uk or freephone 0808 8020 133.

Gambling and debt

If you’re concerned about debts that have arisen from gambling or for any other reason, give one of our friendly, non-judgemental advisers a call on 0800 316 1833 or get immediate free debt help online.