Gambling 101

I can see the Las Vegas strip, outside my window, as I write this. It sounds strange, but most people who live here, don’t play casino games. And, lots of people who visit here, don’t come to gamble. Probably, because there is tons of fun things to do here. And, gambling is not limited to casinos. It’s available in every town. Activities like bingo, office pools, raffles, sports and even charities, are forms of gambling. That doesn’t mean that these activities are bad, because that is simply not true. Gambling can be a fun form of entertainment.

What is “Gambling as Entertainment”?

It is never betting more than you can afford to lose. Let’s take an example, like going to the county fair. You plan on exchanging some money in exchange for some entertainment. Gambling can be a harmless as harmless as that.  That is, if, you can decide beforehand how much you are willing to lose – and stick to it. Set a budget for how much is in your comfort zone, and when you lose that amount, stop playing and go somewhere else. Remember, in the long run you will always lose money!!

Types of Gamblers

Social Gambler – Gambles for entertainment. Spends a small amount of time and money on gambling activities. It is not given much thought or attention.

Problem Gambler – Devotes more time, thought and money, towards gambling.

Compulsive Gambler (sometimes called compulsive gambler) – Uncontrollable urge to gamble. It preoccupies most of their time. Gambling is the most important thing in their life.

Criminal Gambler (Organized Crime) – Launders illegal gambling revenue.

Professional Gambler – Makes a living through gambling. Bets in a controlled way. This person handles losses well and does not let gambling interfere with normal activities.

Why Might a Person Gamble?

Escape. This person gambles as a way to escape life’s problems. They prefer games like bingo, slot machines, video games and lottery tickets.

Action. This person seeks adrenaline. They gamble to feel excitement.  They prefer games like dice, sports, roulette and horse racing.

Three Phases of Addiction

The search for a “win” – The winning enhances self-esteem and ego. The losses are rationalized as bad luck. There is normally a “big win” that this person will incessantly talk about. This person almost always has fantasies about winning and unreasonable optimism.

The chase for a “win” – Losses are happening more frequently and self-esteem is crumbling. The gambler will borrow money to “get even”. Expect:

– Constant lies
– Hiding activities from work, family and friends
– Thinking obsessively about gambling
– Bragging about wins
– Personality changes

The search for hitting bottom – The gambler withdrawals from society. They will often turn to illegal activities to support their habit. Suicide may be contemplated. There will be loss of reputation, family, job and friends.

Rock bottom – There will be hopelessness and possibly a suicidal attempt. The person might get arrested, divorced or hospitalized from a mental breakdown.  This is a very grave condition.  Gambling Addicts have a very high rate of suicide.

In Summary

Gambling is listed as an impulse control disorder. And according to the Nevada Council on Gambling Problems, the “problem gamblers” are often the last ones to realize what is happening to them, in spite of mounting negative consequences and increasing emotional impact. They may attribute their difficulties to a mere financial problem or believe they are just not being ‘smart’ enough when they gamble. The fantasy that one more big win will solve the financial problems and return everything to normal drives them on to gamble even harder.
If your gambling is no longer fun, don’t wait for the problem to get worse… Get Help Now or call the 24-hour Problem Gamblers Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.

Another resource is Gamblers Anonymous

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