Gambling addiction, what is the appeal?

July 26, 2016 9:56 am

5857256935_3ec79a0b35_oOften people don’t see gambling addiction as a real thing. It is not in the same ‘league’ as drugs and alcohol and often people won’t take it as seriously if someone admits they have a problem.

If you have a partner who drinks all day every day it is not something they can easily hide, their behaviour and appearance changes, you can smell alcohol and you will see empty bottles. Drugs change your appearance, mood and behaviour….. but gambling, this is something secret, it has no outward signs or symptoms, you don’t get withdrawal and it therefore makes it very easy to hide.

SPB-iPhone-4Someone once described it to me as having an affair, but with money; it is a naughty little secret that you cannot help but go back for more. The problem is that little secret can become a very big secret very quickly as the debt increases. Now that everyone has a smart phone, you can gamble anywhere at any time. You can pop to the toilet at work and put a bet on, you can play bingo on the bus on the way home, you can sit in the car waiting to pick your kids up from school and bet each way on which horse will pass the line first. Additionally you can bet on anything, take football; who will win, who scores first, what time will they score, total goals, 1st half result the options are endless.

Drinking is guaranteed, you down 10 shots of tequila and you will get drunk. Drugs are also fairly guaranteed, the feelings of euphoria people experience is what makes people do it again and again. But what about gambling? I could never really understand the thrill; I mean wasting money on a bet that is in no way guaranteed in my mind isn’t worth the risk. But of course, people do win….. sometimes. A lot of people have a flutter on the Grand National, someone out there will have liked the sound of “Rule the World” and decided that is where they would bet their £10, with 33/1 odds actually they did win £340. Or you’ll join in the office sweepstake on Euro 2016, whoever pulled Portugal from the hat this year got their comeuppance and will have taken the kitty. Winning happens and that is what keeps people coming back time and time again. Unlike alcohol or drugs, the thrill is the chase, not knowing if you will win until the last moment and the idea that when you do win the euphoric high will be out of this racing

So what is the problem? Well for everyone who scooped a win on Portugal, 23 other people lost their money. For most people it is just a bit of fun, £2 in a kitty at work is not a problem, they can afford to lose that much. But what happens when you bet a lot, you register your card online and keep betting £3 here and £5 there, after all, every website now gives the promise of free money when you register “get £30 free bet when you register £5” The issue happens when you have bet several times that day and realise you’re £20 down. So you try again tomorrow, bet a little more because when you win you’ll get a bigger return? Believing you can buy your way out of debt is a common belief within gambling addiction, but the reality is for the 23 times they lose they are unlikely to win back their losses by the time they do get a win.

pig smashWith drinking, once you cannot hold a glass any more or you fall asleep, the drinking will stop, but at what point will the betting stop? Betting £2 on the Euros at work in lieu of that morning Americano from the coffee shop is not a problem as you can afford to lose it, but what if you bet your weeks food shopping? Or the rent or Mortgage payment? The mentality of “someone has to win” is strong enough to keep people betting in the hope that eventually their team will win. In the meantime the debt pile goes up and up and up.

Gambling addiction is real, it is hard and it is lonely.


If you are having problems with your gambling or if someone you know is gambling too much, get in touch with us 0300 456 4293



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