Responsible Gambling

Gambling is fun: anyone who’s felt the rush of adrenaline when they hit the jackpot knows this. But what happens when the fun stops and your need to place a bet has subsumed your reasoning and ability to stop?

The most prominent studies done by the NCBI since 2000 indicate that Asia is showing a rapid year-on-year growth in gambling prevalence rates. The Philippines, though, has not formed a part of any conclusive study regarding gambling addiction. It’s safe to assume that as the gambling industry increases its market share, problem gambling will follow suit.

Gambling addiction is nothing to feel ashamed about. Addictive personality traits are common, and compulsive gamblers can’t help themselves. Much like any other addiction, it’s a problem that quickly spins out of your control unless you seek help.

The good news is that there’s help, and you can overcome it if you’re willing to commit. Here, we’ll be looking at what responsible gambling means, the different types of gambling dependency, the causes of addiction, and when to realize if you’ve got a problem. We also explore all the options you have for seeking help, including the public organizations that help those in trouble.

  • The Pros of Gambling

  • It’s a fun pastime
  • It’s competitive
  • It’s interactive
  • You can win money
  • The Cons of Gambling

  • Problematic if you’re addicted
  • Can lose money quickly
  • Can consume your thoughts

What Is a Gambling Addiction?

The medical term for gambling addiction is ludomania, more commonly referred to as a compulsive gambling disorder or pathological gambling. This addiction typically involves the compulsive and uncontrollable impulse to place bets, irrespective of the adverse effects on yourself, your family, friends, or job. If you can’t stop, even when you know you can’t afford to lose, it might be time to ask for help.

Scholars generally agree that ludomania comes in three manifestations:

🔸 Problem Gambler

The moment that there's any personal problem caused by your gambling habits, you’ve become a problem gambler. If your close friends and family have mentioned that they think you gamble too often or don’t stop even when you know you should, it’s cause for concern. A problem gambler isn’t capable of responsible betting, and although they’re not yet involved with any illegal activities, it usually signals the start of more significant problems if left untreated. As with any addiction, early intervention can still prevent this type of gambler from developing destructive habits.

🔸 Compulsive Gambler

Compulsive gambling can destroy your life and those who love you. A compulsive or pathological gambler can’t control his/her impulse to place bets anymore. They can bet all their money, friends’ money, and even their home in extreme cases. Many compulsive gamblers have deeper-lying problems and suffer financial ruin because of them. This type of gambler is also more prone to participating in illegal activities to pay down the enormous debts they can accumulate. Many sufferers are not aware of their addiction or are in denial until it’s too late, and they’ve already lost everything.

🔸 Binge Gambler

A binge gambler can abstain from gambling for periods, but they quickly spin out of control when they start. Once they begin, it’s challenging for them to stop. The binge gambler has a sense of control over the urge to gamble, much like the problem gambler, because it’s not a daily affair yet. Unfortunately, because of the hurt and pain it causes when the addict eventually spins out of control, it remains a problem that needs attention.

Signs of Addiction in a Person

It’s essential to understand and acknowledge that addiction is a disease and can be successfully treated. For this reason, it’s critical to know the signs that indicate dependence for early intervention. The sooner you can get help, the better your chances for full recovery will be.

Take a look at the most common tell-tales of addiction:

Signs of Addiction in a Person
Hiding your gambling: If you’re secretive about your gambling and hide it from family or friends, it’s a sign that it’s hurting somebody and could be problematic.
You're gambling money you don’t have: When you use all your spare cash and then start using funds intended for another purpose like rent, utility bills, or even money you need for your children.
You can’t control your gambling: Can you walk away once you start? If you’re not able to stop gambling even when you know you should, it’s a problem.
Your friends are worried: When the people closest to you are concerned about your gambling, it’s time to start listening to them.
Feeling remorse after gambling: You know that you have a problem and feel guilty every time you’ve placed a bet.
Borrowing money to gamble: You’ve already lost all your money and feel compelled to borrow money to win back what you’ve lost.
You’re missing work: It’s more important to be at the event than to be at work, and you believe you won’t get caught, or you don’t care.
Committing crimes to fund your gambling: You have to steal or sell your own or personal belongings to finance your bets.
Your relationships are deteriorating: Your friends and family are distancing themselves from you because of your behavior.

Disclaimer:

Always seek professional help if you’re concerned about yourself or your friends’ gambling habits. It’s inadvisable to try and diagnose somebody without visiting a licensed psychiatrist or therapist.

What Causes Ludomania?

People that suffer from gambling addiction often have underlying problems with other disorders like alcohol, drugs, anxiety, and depression. Often, they consider suicide. Many people with gambling addiction have financial, personal, or legal problems. Losing a job, divorce, and bankruptcy regularly occur amongst pathological gamblers.

🔸 Biological Factors

Biological factors are outside your control, and unfortunately, they can increase your gambling addiction risk.

One of the first factors taken into account would be age. If you’re exposed to gambling from a young age, the risk of developing a gambling problem increases. However, problematic gambling is more common among young adults and middle-aged people. Addiction is more prominent among men than women, although these demographics are shifting as more women also start to gamble. Women often begin at a later age, but when they start betting, they tend to become addicted faster than men.

🔸 Psychological Factors

Substance abuse, depression, personality disorders, and anxiety are common in compulsive gamblers. Gambling addiction is also closely associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and hyperactivity, or ADHD.

Certain personality traits are also at a higher risk for compulsive gambling, including impulsive and highly competitive workaholics. If you’re easily bored or restless, it can also put you at a higher risk of developing a problem.

A study conducted in Canada indicates that 41.7% of players with a severe gambling problem have visited a psychiatrist for reasons other than gambling. It’s a clear indication that a person's mental stability, depression, anxiety, and other psychological occurrences are a decisive factor that leads to addiction.

🔸 Social Factors

If your circle of friends tends to gamble, it can often put you at risk of developing an addiction. Peer pressure can cause you to feel excluded if you don’t participate in a group activity that includes betting.

The extreme opposite can also have the same effect on your gambling habits. Loneliness, lack of a social support network, and stressful life events are all factors that contribute to gambling addiction. People who feel the need to join a community are more likely to develop a habit because they begin to need the sense of companionship that social gambling can often bring.

In both cases, a support group would be an excellent start for you if you can relate to some of these social factors that compel you to gamble more than you truly desire.

🔸 Comorbidity

A recent Harvard study for the National Comorbidity Survey Replication showed that people with any underlying psychiatric disorder are 17.4 times more susceptible to compulsive gambling practices. Almost 75% of all people with a gambling problem also have a co-occurring alcohol abuse disorder, and nearly 40% had a co-occurring drug abuse disorder.

Further studies have indicated that personality, mood, and anxiety disorders are present between 40 and 60% of all persons with a compulsive gambling problem. In these cases, 23.5% of the people had a gambling disorder before the other comorbidities.

In short, ludomania rarely appears alone, and it can often become a precursor to other problems. That’s why it’s essential to identify a problem immediately and seek professional help as soon as possible.

Negative Effects of Gambling

As with any addiction, a compulsive gambling disorder can completely disrupt your life and livelihood. Not only does it have devastating effects on the people closest to you, but it can also cost you everything if you don’t seek help. The following is a list of factors most strongly affected by ludomania:

Family: Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of a gambling disorder is the need to hide your habit. The constant lies will negatively impact your family and destroy trust.

Health: One of the comorbidities of gambling addiction is anxiety. It’s caused by the constant need to hide and lie about your addiction. The stress, anxiety, and loneliness of the disorder can harm your long-term health.

Finances: Compulsive gambling is a costly addiction. You need money to feed it. It’s common for people with this disorder to revert to crime to either pay their debts or continue gambling.

Alcohol & Substance Abuse: A compulsive gambling disorder can lead to other conditions, including alcohol and substance abuse. These symptoms are found in 75% of people with a gambling addiction.

Is Gambling Addiction a Common Problem?

It’s more common than you think. Only 21% of people that have been treated for problematic gambling practices realized that their gambling was a problem. If you can understand how to recognize the signs and symptoms, you can seek early intervention.

Statistics Compiled by NCBI in 2016

  • The study by the NCBI compiled in South Korea included 6,510 participants**.** According to the study results, 3% of the participants showed signs of problem gambling, while 0.8% demonstrated clear indications of a pathological gambling disorder.
  • The same study conducted amongst 10,934 gamblers in Singapore showed a higher rate of addiction than South Korea. According to numbers, 2% classified as problem gamblers and 2.1% as pathological gamblers.
  • An average of 6,121 gamblers in Hong Kong participated in the NCBI study. It showed that 4% were problem gamblers, and 1.8% demonstrated signs of a pathological gambling disorder.
  • In the NCBI study conducted in Macau, 1,121 gamblers between the age of 15 and 64 participated. From all participants, 2.5% were classified as problem gamblers, while a further 1.78% showed compulsive gambling disorder signs.

How to Get Over the Gambling Addiction?

An addiction is a medical disorder; it’s not something you can get over without professional help. If you or someone close to you shows any signs or symptoms of gambling addiction, it’s vital to reach out to a therapist or psychologist as soon as possible.

🔸 Acknowledge the Addiction

Now that you have more insight into ludomania, it can help you better understand what you’re dealing with. You can’t seek help if you don’t admit that you’ve got a problem. Acknowledging your addiction is the first and most crucial step towards recovery.

🔸 Find a Support Group in Your Area

Joining a support group is an excellent start on your road to recovery. You’ll be able to meet and interact with peers that are also dealing with gambling addiction. Although not all support groups offer professional medical help, they should be able to refer you if needed.

The KAYA center in Baguio City is also well equipped to help you in the Philippines. It’s a three-hour drive north of Manila and is highly trusted and recommended for gambling addicts.

🔸 Avoid Temptation

You’ll have to avoid all the places and people that are “triggers” to your addiction. If you had a specific friend that you used to gamble with, be honest with them about your decision to overcome it. You might have to distance yourself from the person until you’re strong enough to say no to gambling.

How Do You Help Someone Cope With Addiction?

The first thing you need to do is understand how the person is feeling. Find out as much as you can about the disorder and the comorbidities that you might deal with. If an addict feels understood, they will speak more freely, and you can start planning the next steps together.

If the gambler is someone close to you and their behavior has hurt you, it’s essential to understand your emotions. In this case, it’s a team effort in getting help and motivating each other to heal.

You need to understand that there’s a systematic path for healing with many good and bad days. Here are a few steps that have been identified during a gambling addict’s recovery.

Typical Steps You Can Expect During Recovery:

  1. Denial – They don’t admit the problem yet.
  2. Consideration – They admit the addiction.
  3. Preparation – During this stage, they often admit they need help.
  4. Taking the first step – At this stage, they’ve actively stopped gambling and are trying to adapt to new behavior and routines.
  5. Maintaining the change – This is a vital step when they’ll need a lot of support from loved ones.
  6. Occasional slip – It’s a regular occurrence to fall back into an unhealthy habit in the recovery period. It needs to be dealt with correctly, and you shouldn’t react over-emotionally. Focus on the lesson learned from it by changing your approach to what caused the slip. It might have been a visit to a particular place or a group of friends that triggered it. Use the information to avoid possible future relapses.

During the steps of recovery, it’s important to remember that each person is unique. You must allow the addict to move through each step at his/her own pace and not force them forward.

Don’t be an enabler during the recovery period. Don’t reward good behavior by allowing them a small amount for gambling. Giving the person money can often hinder their road to recovery.

It’s a long journey for a patient to recover from a gambling addiction fully. It’s crucial that you also have a support network helping you as you help your loved one.

How to Prevent the Suicide of Problem Ludomans

It’s alarming to know how frequently gambling addicts have suicidal thoughts. The latest statistics show that one out of every 5 patients with suicidal tendencies is a compulsive gambler. Understanding these statistics will help you to support your loved one or friend better.

Trustworthy casinos in the Philippines have hotlines for the prevention of suicide. Many offer immediate assistance via online chat features or toll-free numbers. It can help you or a loved one when suffering from suicidal thoughts.

Alternatives to Gambling

Gambling is often one manifestation of a more profound underlying condition or emotion. If you can understand why you turned to gambling in the first place, you can find healthier alternatives.

Alternatives to Gambling
Why Do People Gamble? What Can You Replace it With
To experience the rush of winning Why not participate in outdoor sports or events that can also give you an adrenaline rush? Rock climbing or mountain bike racing can release the same and better feelings of a healthy kick.
To make extra money You need to realize that the odds are against you when gambling. You’ll have more success seeking the help of a debt counselor.
To overcome loneliness or boredom Seeking out a support group will add value to your life as you’ll form new and healthy friendships with likeminded people.
To relax after a hard day’s work Committing to a few minutes of cardio exercise per day will be much better for your mental and physical health. It also releases endorphins that’ll help you feel happier and relaxed.
To avoid problems or overcome negative feelings Gambling will only make you feel worse. The guilt you’ll deal with every time will add your emotional burdens. Seeking the help of a registered counselor or therapist will be a long-term solution.

Myths & Facts About Ludomania

Knowing the disorder is vital if you're serious about beating it. It’s advisable to make use of medically endorsed resources online to help you learn the facts. All too often, uninformed people share unreputable advice online, and it can be detrimental to your recovery.

Myth: If you don’t gamble every day, you don’t have a problem.

Fact: It’s not the frequency of your gambling that determines whether it’s a problem or not, but rather its consequences. If your gambling has caused harm to yourself or anybody else, it’s a problem.

Myth: Only people with a weak will or who are irresponsible can get addicted.

Fact: There is no specific demographic for gambling addiction. People from all walks of life are affected by the disorder. You can just as quickly get caught up in addictive behavior if you’re a strong-willed or very responsible person.

Myth: If the player can afford it, then it can’t be a problem.

Fact: The negative long term effects of ludomania are not only financial losses. It can affect every aspect of your life. Relationships at home and work will suffer as the intensity of the disorder increases over time. The mental health problems associated with gambling addiction include anxiety, depression, and, in extreme cases, suicide.

Myth: Part of helping someone with gambling addiction is paying their gambling debt.

Fact: It may seem like the right thing to do at the time, but in the long run, it can cause more harm. If you pay the debt before the addict gets help, they can easily make more debt. The gambler also needs to be held accountable for their actions, including paying off debts.

Myth: It’s the gambler’s wife/husband that drives them to gamble.

Fact: It’s normal behavior for any addict to shift the blame and try to deflect the attention away from themselves. As long as they can blame others, they feel no need to take responsibility for their behavior.

Resources That Can Help Gamblers

Online gambling is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. As players are more connected, very little stands in the way of being online 24/7. It’s a dangerous scenario if you have a gambling problem.

Fortunately, there’s help that’s freely available if you realize that your gambling is a problem. The top online casinos in the Philippines will also have a “responsible gambling” section on its websites that you can consult.

Let’s take a look at a few of the reputable organizations that can assist you.

Begambleaware.org®

It’s fully funded and managed by an independent charity that strives to keep people safe from gambling addictions' harmful effects on your life. It focuses on providing information that’ll help you make intelligent and informed decisions about your gambling habits. Begambleaware.org also shares the risks associated with gambling and educates people on how to avoid pitfalls. It’s also involved with the treatment of gambling addictions and will give you informed advice about treatment options in your region.

Helpguide.org

Helpguide.org is another NPO that assists millions of people globally online to help them understand the disorder. It has excellent resources and online counselors that can assist you or a loved one if you’re concerned about a gambling habit. It ‘helps you to help yourself.’

Gamblingtherapy.org

It’s another global online support group for people with ludomania. What makes this site an excellent option is that it has online support groups and chat rooms. Whenever you feel the urge to gamble or need emotional support, you can go online and find the next available group.

Gamblinghelponline.org

It offers one on one and confidential support by real people 24/7. It’s not only for the addict but for anybody that’s affected by gambling. If required, it can give emotional support when you need it most and refer you to a therapist.

Conclusion

Gambling is not a new pastime in the Philippines. It was recorded in the 16th century that many Chinese business travelers were placing bets on cockfights when visiting the neighboring country. It’s believed that this is how gambling originated in the Philippines.

Over the centuries, gambling has grown into a legitimate business, and the Manila metropole now boasts more than 20 land-based casinos. In the Philippines, all gambling activities are monitored and regulated by the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR.)

If you enjoy online gambling, it’s advisable to participate in casinos that carry the seal of approval from PAGCOR. Licensed casino operators are more likely to have measures in place to help you if you feel that your gambling is becoming problematic. Features to look for when signing up with a new online casino are self-exclusion tools and links to responsible gambling organizations.

If you recognize any of the signs that we’ve discussed, please reach out to one of the online resources that are available to you.