In this small section I aim to provide info on gambling addition, addiction potential and problematic behaviour associated with games of chance. By providing info I aim to reduce risk and harm associated with this type of entertainment and competitive sport (in case of poker). There is also a short problem gambling quiz at the bottom, which you can fill out to find out whether you are at risk of developing gambling addiction or not and what to do if you are.
/This is a sensitive topic and out of respect this section doesn’t have any casino banners or other ads leading to gambling websites. If you by chance find any casino ads here please let me know in the comments section below, I will remove it right away, it shouldn’t be there. Disclaimer: the rest of the website has gambling advertisement, visit it at your own risk. Don’t visit if you have issue with problem gambling (or you are under 18). Thank you./
Gambling addiction, risk reduction, harm reduction
Gambling in general is on the rise, a significant increase, especially online gambling (see graph below).
And with this, gambling addiction and problem gambling increase too (not the percentage, that remained very stable, but the total number of addicts is growing). The graph below from the UK illustrates this perfectly. According to the UK Gambling Commission in total 0.5% of players at any given time have a gambling addiction.
Problem gambling in all of its forms among all age groups is certainly on the uptake, globally. The average number of gambling addicts is 0.5% of the population (according to UK studies, but globally it’s similar too, always under 1%).
Gambling loot boxes in PC, social and mobile games – turning the new generation into wagering zombies
Apart from the exponential increase in gambling what is especially disconcerting is the gambling like features in mobile, browser, console and PC games. The best known of these are the so called ‘loot boxes’ mostly in FPS games. Some Facebook games don’t even try to hide the similarity and have features such as the “Wheel of Fortune” (in Big Farm). And many, if not most of these games, target the under 30 demographic and some actively target minors.
Although it is not clear what sort of effect, if any these will have down the line.
UPDATE 2020: It’s no longer a question what sort of effect these gambling-like in-game features will have. It has been settled. A very clear negative one, loot boxes were linked to problem gambling later in life, according to these studies (click here to see). This is really alarming as loot boxes have now become ubiquitous in gaming. Also, most video games target men and they spend significantly more time playing games on the computer. It’s very well known, studies-after-studies show that men on average are at a much higher (almost twice as much) risk of developing a gambling addiction. So these computer games target an already at risk, vulnerable group (men) at a very young age.
Other groups with an increased risk with regards to problem gambling:
- Men – already mentioned, twice as likely as women to be problem gamblers
- Young – much more likely to engage in problem gambling
- Education – the lower the level of the education one has, the higher their chance of becoming addicted to gambling
- Religion – surprisingly, religious people, especially catholics are more likely to be at risk than other religions or nonbelivers
- Ethnicity – minorities are more likely to spend too much on gambling
- Marital status – divorced people are more likely to develop gambling addictions
- History – those who have history of gambling in the family are more at risk
/+ Extra fact: Mobile games are really the worst offenders. Apart from these loot box like features increasing proclivity for gambling later in life they also shorten attention span and social media, which is a built in feature in most of these mobile games has been conclusively proven to dumb down people, decreasing IQ points over time*. The new generation is being dumbed down and ruined in front of our eyes and what do parents do, they purchase smartphones for their kids at an ever youger age**, right now, 40% of US parents let their kids have their own phone by the age of 10. Truly we have reached idiocracy, at least in the USA, which is the worst offender in all of these modern maladies.
Gambling addiction vs. problem gambling? What are the differences?
People use gambling addiction and problem gambling interchangeably. In the colloquial use there is no difference between them, that’s for sure. However, there is still an actual difference between the two if we look at the proper definitions of these words. Not to mention, some experts say that gambling addiction is not even a real thing, because it’s not real addiction. So let’s see what’s the truth:
Problem gambling: “Problem gambling is characterized by many difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others, or for the community.”* is the actual and officially recognized definition of the word used by researchers and government institutions the world around. Problem gambling is definitely a real and the sad thing is that it disproportionately affects men of lower socioeconomic classes and also hurts their families as well. However, it’s also a character flaw and the result of bad decisions. Let’s not dismiss personal responsibility here. Nobody forces these people to spend enormous amounts on gambling regularly, repeatedly, for years. It’s their fault, their responsibility, their decision primarily. They are not victims o the “evil casinos”. And this is the biggest difference between problem gambling and addiction.
Gambling addiction: Addiction is characterized by compulsion, withdrawal, obsession. Does gambling addiction have these?
Withdrawal? Yes, psychological withdrawal only, but yes, check.
Compulsion? No, compulsion is not the same as strong desire, want. A problematic delinquent who just can’t stop gambling it’s nowhere near the same as e.g.: a heroin addict who literally needs a hit just to survive and to not die from opioid withdrawal (it can easily be fatal for real addicts in case of sudden cessation).
Even though it’s undoubtedly difficult, a gambling addict can indeed say no and not spend money betting. Personal responsibility, the ability to decide, and to say no, even if it’s hard is the main difference.
Gambling addiction is not a real thing, it’s not real addiction. It sounds controversial but this is the actual position of most healthcare professionals and researchers. Pathological gambling is characterised as an addictive behavior, a form of impulse control disorder (so it’s hard to say no, bus possible), not an addiction. It’s important to remember this, because the importance of personal responsibility, ownership of one’s own actions gets lost in the sea of gambling regulations and laws and nonsensical, lurid, sensationalist gambling addiction blogs . It’s the nanny state everywhere, instead of educating and reminding people of personal responsibility and ownership it’s always about bans, restrictions and the state saving people from themselves (and it doesn’t work btw., eg.: online gambling) and from the “evil” casinos.
How not to prevent problem gambling: The state can not save people from themselves, it’s true for drugs and also when it comes to gambling. Lawmakers, at least most of them, are old, pre-internet era people, often political appointees lacking necessary qualifications and relevant experience, insider Industry knowledge needed to understand the complexities of this industry.
I research and write about gambling laws and regulations in all of the 169 UN recognized countries for 6+ years now (you can read it here) and I see these people and their dumb approach everywhere, it’s all the same, copy paste. They assume that when they ban gambling entirely in a country that will mean people won’t be able to play at all anymore. One word: internet. But even if you ban all gambling websites (good luck trying, they come and go, pop up like mushrooms) – with a simple, free VPN or IPmask you are good to go, no more ban, circumvented. That’s how the internet works. There are always gambling websites that will let people play, and using a VPN is just a click of a button, 90% of people can do it nowadays. This nanny state approach, “let’s save these poor gambling addicts from themselves” is really dumb, and as we have discussed before, gambling addiction is not even a real thing. It only drives the whole thing underground and now you won’t even know how many people are problem gamblers and you won’t know how much and when do they play. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY! THESE OFFSHORE ONLINE GAMBLING WEBSITES, WHICH ARE ILLEGALLY ACCEPTING PLAYERS DON’T PAY ANY TAXES!!! It’s a lose-lose for everyone involved, yet this seems to be the prevailing approach globally.
Instead of promoting and talking about personal responsibility, companies, to bend the knee, to appear “socially responsible” (bullshit word of the century…) and because often it is mandatory, they create these gambling addiction blogs, pamphlets and hotlines where they regurgitate this crap, false ideology that these poor gambling addicts need to be saved from themselves, that they are powerless over their addiction (like Alcoholics Anonymus 12 step program, except alcoholism is a very real addiction and alcohol withdrawal can kill you! Gambling “addiction” can not.) and that they are victims, a false ideology of victim-hood.
It’s all corporate posturing, and PR bullshit. And on the government’s part it’s stupidity and mindless copying (they just copy other countries, no originality when it comes to problem gambling prevention or regulation, but they still get a fat paycheck for ctrl+c, ctrl+v….). It’s smoke and mirrors, but it does reduce harm and problem gambling luckily, so there is a silver lining. Still, if you, or someone you know engages in pathological problem gambling, remember that you CAN and you SHOULD stop playing. It’s your decision, you have power over your actions and your spending.
How to stop problem gambling: Look at your life, analyze it. Why is that you can only find happiness, enjoyment in gambling? What can you do to make your life if not enjoyable, at least bearable? How did you get here? What are those long-standing, systematic issues that landed you in this situation? It’s time to deal with them. Don’t postpone working on self improvement, working on your life because eventually you will run out of money and you will be there, all those unresolved issues will be there, except you will be broke and homeless too…. Not a recipe for success…
Your road to recovery, your way out, will be very personal. No ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to problem gambling and life improvement. It’s a psychological problem and you need to face your own demons, your own issues: inside, mentally – and outside, in your life as well. Good luck in your recovery!
Problem gambling, gambling addiction survey, questionnaire
Find out if you are affected by problem wagering with the help of this short quiz.
Are you a gambling addict? – Problem gambling quiz
Gambling addiction, problem gambling quiz
Complete the quiz to find out whether you have issues with pathological betting. Find out whether it's time for you to stop, or it's just a fun pastime and there is nothing for you to worry about.
If you are interested on how the score of the survey is calculated and the reasoning behind it, then click below and it will drop down the quiz cheat sheet. Do not read this before answering the questions honestly, otherwise there is no point.
Question 1.,: Men are more at risk of becoming addicted to gambling (also true about addiction in general, substance abuse risk is also higher, and gambling addiction has comorbidity with many substance abuse issues interestingly). +1 point if you are a men. 0 points for the others, but in truth we have no data on gambling related issues among intersex people, because there are so few of them, so it’s should be a question mark, but for mathematical reasons, I had to make it 0.
Question 2., Study after study proves conclusively an inverse association between gambling addiction and highest attained level of education (also true for other substance abuse, addiction issues, just like before) +1 point if you are unfortunate enough to only have a high school degree or less (it’s never to late to go back and finish high school btw. life really sucks nowadays if you don’t even have a high school diploma but you probably already know that)
Question 3., Pretty self-explanatory, the more often you play, the more at risk you are. +1 for playing multiple times a week, especially daily wagering is a clear sign that it has become part of your everyday routine, that’s worrying but in itself is not enough to classify you as a problem gambler.
Question 4., According to various studies on problem gambling (click here to see) people who spend a significant part (more than 25%) of their income on betting are almost guaranteed to engage in dangerous pathological gambling and are what people would consider gambling addicts. +1 point for spending 25%+.of your monthly income on gambling.
Question 5., Interestingly, people who play at home have an almost three times higher risk of developing gambling related issues than those who play in casinos. Also if you prefer to play alone you are more likely to get into pathological gambling territory. +1 point for the answer “At home, alone”.
Question 6., It’s obvious +1 if you answer with yes. And also it’s probably time to at least cut back if you have been called out on your gambling habits.
Question 7., Again, the same +1 for yes and you should really cut back.
Add all the points and then you get the results:
0-2 points : no issues
3-5 points: at risk, you will ahve problems unless you make changes now
6-7 points: you are a gambling addict, quit now, right now before you cause irreversible damage to your, and your family’s life
Please, if the quiz tells you that you have a gambling problem, please take it seriously and make changes accordingly. Better yet, it’s best to stop entirely!
How to get help if you have a gambling addiction
Thanks to the over-regulation and overzealous prevention campaigns of the nanny states across the globe getting help is the easy part (except in really poor places of the world like Africa, South East Asia and in places where gambling is illegal like the Middle East, arab countries, obviously they don’t have gambling harm reduction programs if they don’t have gambling at all, but everhere else is really easy to get help).
It’s really easy, just go to any search engine and search for the following: “gambling addiction help recovery + the name of your country, state, city you are in” and I guarantee you that you will find a program, service, website, hotline, counseling or all of these. If you somehow don’t find anything drop a comment below and I will personally connect you with the right services and resources in your country.
Last updated: 2020-07-24