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Last Updated: January 31, 2024

Reviewed by Dr Aaron Weiner

Psychologist and Addiction Specialist Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP is a licensed, board-certified psychologist and addiction specialist with experience in hospital administration, public health, and youth drug prevention.  Dr. Weiner is the President of the Society of Addiction Psychology, serves on the Science Advisory Board of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and is a member of the Physician Speakers Bureau for the National Safety Council. Note: Dr. Weiner has reviewed the informational content of this page for accuracy.  App and website... Read More

Note: Dr. Weiner has reviewed the informational content of this page for accuracy.  App and website recommendations are based solely on the opinions of the author.

Control your gambling habits

If you find that you're spending too much money, and time, or find that gambling is negatively impacting other areas of your life, it's important to take steps to control your activities. Taking proactive steps to manage your game play can help you avoid the negative consequences of problem gambling and enjoy it healthily and responsibly.

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  • Deposit Limits - daily, weekly, or monthly monetary limits to control how much you're depositing into your casino account. These can be increased, decreased or removed.

  • Loss Limits - these will be triggered when you lose a predetermined amount whilst gambling.

  • Reality Checks - a message will be triggered to help you keep track of time.

  • Calculator - a budget calculator will help you figure out how much money from your income you're spending on gambling.

  • Session Limits - you can specify the amount of time you wish to be logged in and remove you from your account once this limit is reached.

  • Self-Assessments - a set of questions that will help you find out how much your life is being impacted by gambling

  • Self Exclusion - you can ask a casino operator to exclude you from gambling for at least 6 months which can also be extended to a permanent basis, this option is non-reversible.

Spotting the Signs

Due to many gambling aspects being fast-paced and incredibly immersive, it's very easy to lose track and become overwhelmed. Gambling issues come gradually, making it hard to recognise them early. The problem gambling signs mentioned below are the most common, however, there may be others that we have not mentioned.

  • Unable to stop: if you're constantly thinking about gambling you’ll do anything to continue gambling including missing work, university and other events.

  • Chasing losses: if you believe that you can turn your luck around and win back what you lost.

  • Lying to friends and family: if you're finding yourself having to hide your gambling activities such as hiding gambling transactions and lying about how much time you’re spending on casino sites.

  • Irrational behaviour: if you're having unexplained changes to your personality, experiencing mood swings or episodes of irritation, particularly after a gambling session.

  • Money problems: if your finances are not looking good and you're still gambling, borrowing money from friends and family to cover losses that you are unable to pay back or selling your possessions to be able to fund your gambling activities.

  • Escaping reality: if you use gambling as a primary method for coping with life stressors or as an attempt to escape from thinking about life stressors.

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One particularly useful option to prevent spending out of your means is implementing a gambling block with your bank.

This kind of block comes in the form of an individual measure for each one of your cards and is referred to as either “card freezes” or “gambling restrictions”. These measures can predominantly be enacted through your mobile banking app under “card control” or “merchant control” settings. Both terms possess near-identical functions.

According to numerous regulators, this feature is recommended for use alongside blocking software and self-exclusion schemes. It is also important to note that credit card transactions for gambling products are now banned in some territories such as the United Kingdom.

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It is important to remember that the true focus of gambling responsibly should be to ensure that whichever games you play remain as enjoyable as possible.

Paying attention to certain factors that improve your gaming experience along with being mindful of the previously mentioned responsible gambling measures will keep the activity as entertaining and as safe as is intended.

Here are some tips to keep gambling fun:

  • Remember that gambling is entertainment. Although the winnings can be eye watering, playing should be for amusement and not for profitable gain.

  • Get to know the games. Learning about the intricate rules, odds and patterns can help you make better decisions as you play.

  • Surround yourself with positive influences. Try to gamble with others who gamble responsibly.

  • Seek operators that use responsible gambling practices. Being protected by the operator of the games you are playing, either online or in person, will make the experience more enjoyable.

  • Do more than just gamble. Finding a diverse set of activities to enjoy in daily life will make it far easier to pick up your gambling activities for the most fun.

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Finding ways to meet your emotional needs in ways other than gambling is important if you're worried your gambling may become a problem. Here are some healthy alternatives to gambling that you can try:

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Stay Active

Exercising serves as an outlet to release stress and tension. Some ways to stay active can be joining a sports team, getting a gym membership, and taking up sports like biking, tennis, or rock climbing. Even 30 minutes of activity per day can lead to improvements in stress and well-being.

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Some of the main triggers for addictive behaviours are boredom and isolation. Filling your time learning something interesting or meeting new people can keep you from gambling out of boredom and convenience. The options for activities can be wide - good places to start are your local library or community centre, a spiritual community (if you feel comfortable in one), or online.

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If you like the excitement of gambling, you may find that other novels or exciting experiences help meet the same need. For example, you can try a new restaurant, find new hobbies, sign up to volunteer at an animal shelter or a hospital and travel.

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Learn to Meditate

If you find yourself stressed and usually gamble as a way to relax, good alternatives are mindfulness and breathwork, There are many ways to get started with a mindfulness meditation practice - good app-based resources for this are Insight Timer (free), Balance (free for the first year) and Headspace (paid subscription after free trial). If you would prefer something more active, yoga can also be helpful to relax.

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Write in a Journal

Journaling helps you process and acknowledge your present thoughts and feelings. If you get the urge to gamble or feel stressed trying to avoid the gambling craving, try taking 10 minutes to journal first instead. If you meet your need for stress reduction first, you may find that your desire to gamble is lessened.

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An issue that has been addressed increasingly in recent months is that of gambling advertising and the prevention of its negative effects.

Specifically social media platforms, such as YouTube or Facebook, have been the key point of focus. If you’re struggling with the visibility of gambling products on such platforms it is possible to opt out of seeing this type of advertising by adjusting your preferences on these platforms.

The steps for this are as follows:

  1. Ensure you are logged into your related Meta or Google account.

  2. Visit the Ad settings through the web browser on your device.

  3. Open the “Ad Personalisation” toggle and access the “How your ads are personalized section” below it.

  4. Find the “Alcohol’ and “Gambling” categories and click the “See Fewer” tab next to the types of advertising you no longer want to see.

  5. Please note that it is not guaranteed that you will not see any advertising material containing these topics but you should see far less of it. You may also see ads on any of these topics if you watch content related to them