Gambling is fun! Ask any gambler. Specifically ask them about the time they pinned their hopes on a slot spin, lost, and had no gas money to get home from the casino. Ask about their tremendous 100k win, which they immediately played down to $0.00. Most of us can walk away from a loss, or even walk away a winner, but make no mistake, gambling can be a problem for anyone.
Factors of Gambling
The Interactive Conceptual Framework of Harmful Gambling is a guide created back in 2013 and last expanded in 2018 where researchers compiled information about the factors that affect someone gambling.
Gambling-specific factors include gambling exposure, environment, resources, and gambling types.
Gambling types are electronic gaming machines, casino table games, craps, roulette, sports betting, lotto. These are basically the types of gambling games that are made available to the player.
Gambling environment are factors such as, how is gambling looked at in the player’s culture. If gambling is legal in their state, or country, and the types of venues that are available. Venues would include places like Bookies, Land Casinos, and even Online Casinos.
Responsible gambling, and harm reduction initiatives are also large factors in how a player might gamble. It’s important to know that responsible gambling ends with the player and begins with the overall design of gambling in that person’s community. The research article, ‘Responsible product design to mitigate excessive gambling: A scoping review and z-curve analysis of replicability’ clearly demonstrates that, “greater transparency and precision are paramount to improving the evidence base for responsible product design to mitigate gambling-related harm.” This essentially puts the burden on the casino company, slot designer, and government, to increase product safety for gamblers.
Gambling resources are the availability of problem gambling services, interventions, risk assessments and harm reduction, prevention, and protection tools.
General factors include social, cultural, biological, and psychological.
In combination, all these factors make up a person’s gambling profile and can lead to a better, personal understanding of how a person will respond to gambling, even before they begin.
Tips for Safer Gambling
When playing online, it’s often a matter of you alone with your computer or other devices. It’s not hard to get carried away by the excitement or even get tilted enough to chase losses. There are some tips for safer gambling that you might want to consider:
If you are stressed, don’t play. A lot of us might see gambling to relieve stress, or as a quick way to chase away the blues, but that’s not the case. Don’t gamble to improve your mood or release stress, it can easily, negatively affect either.
Limit your amount of alcohol consumption when playing.
Know how to play the game before you begin wagering.
Set a time limit and set a comfortable limit to the amount of money you wager.
Gambling has a way of locking you in for long gaming sessions. Make sure to take breaks.
Don’t borrow money to gamble.
Remember that gambling should never be considered a way to make money.
If it stops being fun, stop playing.
Canadians looking for problem gambling support can find numbers and helpful information here.
Problem gambling assistance outside of Canada can be found here.
Gambling Addiction and Suicide
The article, ‘The Science Behind Gambling Addiction’ published by nyu.edu, shows that people are biologically and psychologically wired to respond to gambling stimuli. It also points out that gaming companies are completely free to exploit this. This was partially changed by UK Gambling laws when they made it so slots and other gambling games could not contain cartoon-like images that would entice young people to play. Other than a few minor rules, game designers are free to directly, and for lack of a better term, brainwash a player. That might be a harsh assertation, and some of us might not be as affected as others, but it is scientifically legitimate.
To understand more about the science of addiction, please reference this article.
Gambling can lead to suicide and suicidal thoughts.
This is especially true for those pre-disposed to such tendencies. Ultimately though, it really could happen to anyone, and if you are having those feelings, please seek immediate assistance through emergency services.
There’s a great article that has a recovering gambling addict talking about what lead to him seeking recovery. The video and article can be found here.
The stark reality is that research commissioned by a leading UK gambling charity, GambleAware, found that problem gamblers were six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or try to take their own life – and could be 15 times more likely to do so. The Guardian
These numbers rise when influenced by drug use, alcohol use, as well as other psychiatric conditions. NIH
Hodgins DC, Mansley C, Thygesen K. Risk factors for suicide ideation and attempts among pathological gamblers. Am J Addict. 2006 Jul-Aug;15(4):303-10. doi: 10.1080/10550490600754366. PMID: 16867926.
Gambling is fun. It is designed to be fun and isn’t necessarily sinister, but it is a problem for many. Please remember that gambling disorder is a psychiatric disorder and treatments are available. If you believe that you have a gambling problem or are having thoughts of suicide, please seek immediate medical assistance.