Responsible gambling doesn’t come with a handbook. Many of us are so busy learning how to use betting sites, new strategies and tips that we don’t talk enough about responsible gambling. But we’re here to change that!
Betting for most people is just a bit of fun to have on the weekend. But for some, it can become a serious problem that negatively impacts many aspects of their life. People who become preoccupied with gambling spend more and more time and money on betting until it takes its toll on their physical and emotional well-being. The financial and social repercussions of problem gambling can be devastating not only for individuals but also their family and friends.
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In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to be a responsible gambler, debunk some common myths around betting and tell you what to do and where to get help if you think you have a problem.
How Do I Know If I Have A Gambling Problem?
Gambling can quickly change from being fun and entertaining to causing you stress, worry and relationship problems. When betting becomes too important in your life, it can begin to affect your financial and social well-being. If you realise at any time that gambling has become a problem in your life, seek help immediately!
Is this how you feel? Take the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation’s (SARGF) Self Check Quiz here to see whether you fit the criteria for someone with a gambling problem.
I Have a Gambling Problem. How Do I Stop Betting?
Admitting you have a gambling problem is the first important step towards getting your life back. Your next move should be to close your betting accounts so that you aren’t tempted to gamble again anytime soon.
To close any online betting account, simply contact customer support and request your account be deactivated. The rules for reopening accounts vary across bookmakers but to protect problem gamblers, most operators enforce a cool-off period of at least one week before players’ accounts can be reopened.
How Much Gambling Is Too Much?
The answer to this question is not the same for everyone. Whether you bet every day or only play once a month, gambling might still be a problem for you. The easiest way to know whether your gambling is a problem, is if you often spend more than you can afford to on betting.
If you cannot pay for things like food and rent because you have spent your money on gambling, then you need to stop.
Being a responsible gambler is about having a healthy mindset and the right attitude towards betting.
Here are 10 tips for being a responsible gambler:
- Only gamble with money you can afford to lose.
- Think of the money you lose as the cost of your entertainment.
- Never borrow money to gamble with (even from the bank).
- Set a limit on how much you spend per day/week/month.
- Expect to lose sometimes (bookies are businesses, not charities).
- Don’t chase (bet more after losing a lot).
- Have other interests and hobbies besides gambling.
- Avoid betting when you’re drunk, angry or depressed.
- Try to quit when you’re ahead. (Winners know when to stop)
- Number 1 again!
Can Gambling Make Me Rich?
Gambling can only make you rich if you’re very lucky. Fortune plays a big part in whether you win or lose money when betting. One day you might win a lot of money, but the next day your luck can change and you might lose. For this reason, you should never rely on betting to make a living and try your best to find a job for a steady income.
Why Do I Lose When I Gamble?
No matter what anyone says, no one wins all the time when they gamble. Bad luck is a fact of life and is most often the reason why we sometimes lose money betting. Having bad luck doesn’t mean you’re an unlucky person; when any of us place a bet, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Gambling responsibly means accepting this is out of our control and being patient without overspending.
Want to kill your losing streak? Try both of these two things:
- Stop gambling as soon as you win some money. It’s tempting to keep playing after you win because it feels good and you want to win again. But if you don’t stop playing, you could end up losing again. If you can’t trust yourself, make a withdrawal!
- Bet on sports and casino games with odds of 9/10 (1.9) or less. Accumulator bets are great when they land, but the odds are so big because they don’t come in very often. For a better chance of winning, place bets on shorter odds with smaller returns.
How To Limit Your Betting Account
Some bookies allow you to put account limits on the amount of money you can deposit or lose per day/week/month. This is a good option for players who don’t feel their gambling is a serious problem but would still like to reduce their spending. Contact customer support for your betting sites to see what options are available. Be completely honest with yourself when deciding whether to limit or close your account. If you’re even slightly unsure, we recommend you close your betting accounts altogether.
How To Self-Exclude From Betting (Ban Yourself)
Self-exclusion is when you ask a gambling provider to prevent you from using their products for a period of at least six months. This option is a preventative measure to help gamblers avoid being tempted to reopen their betting accounts once they are closed.
In South Africa, a broader request for exclusion can also be obtained from provincial gambling boards to help prevent you from playing at a number of different online and land-based casinos. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the player to not participate in gambling and the casino cannot be held liable.
Self-exclusion programmes requested through the SARGF include free counselling to help players with their addiction. Only after a minimum of six months and gamblers having attended multiple counselling sessions, will they consider lifting any self-exclusion order.
Do you or a loved one have a gambling problem? Call the SARGF toll-free on 0800 006 008. You can also WhatsApp or SMS ‘HELP’ to 076 675 0710. Councillors are available 24/7 to provide free support, information, assessment and referrals within the nationwide network of mental health professionals. There are also Gamblers Anonymous help groups that you can contact should you need support.