Gambling is a massive part of modern culture and it exists in many different forms. These days, it’s easier than ever for someone to start gambling with their money. From online casinos to sports betting websites, you can find just about anything to tickle your fancy. Indeed, many people gamble for the enjoyment and excitement it brings. But, when you don’t understand how to gamble responsible, big problems are on the horizon.
Consequently, we have put together a guide to help you understand the right and wrong ways to gamble. We urge you to read through all the points as you may spot some warning signs that you or someone you know has a gambling addiction and needs help.
Never gamble to make money
Your mindset and your approach to gambling are extremely important if you want to be responsible. Under no circumstances should you ever look to gamble as a way of making money. The very nature of gambling means you will lose more than you win. Even people that win big sometimes will most likely have a net loss over time. It isn’t a viable way of earning money, so don’t think that you can take it up as a part-time job or get-rich-quick scheme.
Instead, you need to be in the mindset that gambling is for fun. You do it for the excitement, not for the money. Winning money is a bonus, but it’s not your main focus. View gambling in the same way that you’d view going to the cinema or watching your football team play.
Give yourself a budget
If you are going to look at gambling as something you do for entertainment, you need to approach it in the same way you’d approach everything else. Would you go to the cinema every single day and spend over £10 a day on tickets, popcorn, etc? No, because it’s way too costly and you’d spend too much money.
The same needs to be thought about when gambling. Set yourself a budget before you gamble. This is the amount of money you are prepared to spend. Always be sure that you can afford to spend it beforehand – never gamble if you’re in debt or have bills coming up to pay. Use your spare money that’s left over after all the important things have been paid for, but make sure you have a limit that you’ll stop at.
Don’t gamble too frequently
Putting a bet on at the weekend is a fun way for many people to gamble. It’s something to do with friends as you place small bets on big accumulators to see if you get lucky. It also adds more entertainment to the sporting events you’re watching. Similarly, going to the casino once in a while is another way to have fun with friends.
The problem is when you start gambling all the time. You shouldn’t be placing bets or going to casinos every single day. This shows you are starting to develop a dependency on gambling, which is never a good thing. We keep using the cinema analogy, and that’s because it is such a good comparison. You might go to the cinema once or twice a month, possibly even less. A similar approach should be taken when gambling – the more you do it, the less responsible you become.
Find other ways to have fun
This advice goes hand in hand with the previous point. Sometimes, you find yourself gambling more frequently because it’s your only source of entertainment or fun. If this is the case, try to find other ways of having fun. Take up a hobby, go out and meet new people, call your family up and arrange to do something.
Realistically, there are loads of things you can do to fill the void and feel entertained without gambling your money. Once you try doing other things, you find it easier and easier to take a step back from gambling.
Don’t chase your losses
Chasing your losses refers to when you keep gambling to try and make back what you lost. Let’s say you set yourself a limit of £50 to gamble in the casino or on some sporting event. You lost that money, but the voice inside your head tells you that all you need is one win to gain it back and break even. So, you take out more money, place more bets and cross your fingers.
It’s never wise to chase your losses as it normally means you lose more money than you initially lost. That £50 loss might turn into a £100 loss very quickly. The worst part is, you could lose £100, then win a bet that brings you back to a £50 loss. Now, you’re fuelled by the adrenaline of winning and think that luck is back on your side. So, you keep placing bets and end up losing even more money.
If you lose your betting limit, don’t try to win it back. Just accept the money is lost, stop gambling and maybe take a long break before you gamble again.
Only gamble when you have a clear head
Never gamble when drunk, stressed, depressed or emotionally upset. Only ever gamble if you have a clear head and can think straight. It’s highly irresponsible to gamble when you’re not in the right frame of mind.
What to do if you’ve been affected by gambling?
Have you been reading through this post and started to worry deeply about yourself or someone you know? Perhaps you’ve only just realised that you/they are doing irresponsible things when gambling. If this is the case, you need to stop gambling right away and seek help before you lose more money and end up in a terrible financial situation. Gambling can cause insurmountable debts that lead to bankruptcy – don’t let it get to this.
Here are some useful links to sites that will help you or anyone else with a gambling problem:
The national debt line – a good site for help getting out of debt
Stepchange – provides expert financial advice for those struggling
Gamcare – a really good place to go for specific gambling help if you think you have a problem