Prevention of problem gambling has long been part of the business policy of the best online casino providers. This topic is of great importance for all players, which is why we would like to dedicate this page to gambling addiction. Here you will find helpful tips for the early detection of pathological gambling, as well as all the measures to prevent and combat it. Furthermore, you will find information about various gambling protection organizations, where you can get anonymous and free help for yourself as well as for relatives, colleagues and friends.
How to recognize gambling addiction?
The team of bettors points out a responsible approach to sports betting. A good internet connection and a credit or debit card make it extremely easy to access online gambling. With almost everyone owning at least one internet-enabled device these days, the number of gamblers has grown rapidly. Of course, this does not mean that everyone who participates in gambling from time to time is at risk of becoming a gambling addict. Of course, the symptoms of pathological addictive behavior should definitely not be underestimated, as they can help you with early detection. Often, they are not so easy to notice because the sufferers conceal their difficulties and lie about how they lost their money. Gambling addicts can be from any social class, any age and any gender. They suffer from mood changes and are bad at dealing with stress. However, how often one gambles in a casino is not a criterion of whether this is a pathological behavior or not. However, sufferers constantly think about gambling and have to constantly increase their stakes to achieve the desired pleasure. They unsuccessfully try to control, limit and even stop gambling. They want to compensate their losses with new winnings and often borrow money for this purpose. Gambling addicts spend less time with their families and friends. You can also often notice physical symptoms such as sleep and eating disorders, sweating, and loss of reality.
How to help with gambling addiction?
The BzgA provides extensive information on sports betting as well, here some place to turn to for help:
Anyone who has recognized the symptoms described above in a friend or relative should first talk calmly with them about this situation. In doing so, one should in no way reproach or settle the accumulated debts. Gambling addicts themselves need to overcome their financial difficulties and relearn money management so that they can once again correctly assess the value of each euro. After the first conversation, together you can deactivate the player account at the respective online casino. For this, you just need to contact the customer service. Then you can look for an appropriate treatment of gambling addiction. Since this is already a registered disease in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, those affected also have the option of undergoing outpatient or inpatient therapy, which is also covered by health insurance. It is important to choose an individualized therapy. In the case of inpatient treatment, the affected person is away from his usual gambling environment for one to three months. In this way, he can distance himself from his problems enough to consider them soberly. One can participate in specialized group therapy and make an exchange with other gambling addicts. Social workers, doctors, psychologists and physiotherapists are available 24/7 for the sufferers in a clinic. It should not be forgotten that in most cases gambling addiction goes hand in hand with alcoholism and major debts.
Is it possible to prevent gambling addiction?
There are many working measures to avoid getting into gambling addiction. To avoid a problem, you must first know its causes. If you like to participate in gambling, you should inform yourself about all the symptoms and consequences of gambling addiction. You should perceive gambling only as pure entertainment and in no case invest more money in it than you are ready to lose. Since the losses are the price of your gambling pleasure, you never need to compensate them with further bets. Of course, you must not finance this hobby with money from relatives or friends. If you think that you will spend more money than you had planned, you can also set daily, weekly and even monthly betting limits in advance at any online casino. This way you will be able to deposit, wager and lose only the amount you have decided to spend. Before you start playing, you should know the rules of the game. You still need to decide how much money you are willing to risk that day as well as how much time you want to spend in the casino. You must realize that you cannot predict, control or influence the outcome of the game. The game outcome depends on an external random number generator, so even the casino operators cannot manipulate the results. And last but not least, you must be aware that usually the probability of winning is lower than the probability of losing.
Take the anonymous self-test!
The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) works together with various gamer protection organizations and is behind the web portals check-dein-spiel.de and spielen-mit-verantwortung.de. There you can take an anonymous self-test absolutely free of charge and without obligation. In addition, you have the opportunity to get personal advice via telephone and live chat. On these websites you can also find self-help groups in your area as well as further information about clinics, family and educational counseling centers and debt counseling centers. Since gambling addiction is recognized as an illness in Germany, you can even get sick pay during inpatient therapy. If you suspect you have a gambling addiction, you should not wait, but look for a way out immediately.
If you have ever had problems due to gambling
The most important rule first: stay away from gambling if it has ever had a negative impact on your life. This applies to all gambling, including seemingly harmless games like the lottery. If you have problems with gambling, then get your provider (e.g. your gambling hall) to block you. You can find forms for this here. Also, seek professional advice.
Dealing responsibly with gambling
If fun at gambling turns into an urge, a gambling addiction can develop. The following basic rules will help you prevent this from happening.
Check your gambling behavior regularly
When does problem gambling start? This question is usually difficult to answer for those affected. However, there are many signs of excessive gambling. These can often be detected before an addiction develops. For example, do you feel the need to wager more and more money? Or have you ever lied about your gambling?
To identify problems with gambling at an early stage, use our self-test regularly. In the test, we give you accurate feedback on your gambling behavior.
Don’t use gambling to get money.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a lottery, casino or betting shop: All providers of games of chance earn a lot of money from their customers. Even if the players win something in between, the providers pay out less money than they receive from the players. So in the end, they make rich profits – while the players accumulate ever higher losses.
Set yourself a limit before playing
How long do you want to play? How much do you want to bet? You should answer these questions before you start playing. If you can’t stick to your limit, it’s a sign of problem gambling behavior. In this case, use our self-test to get feedback.
Do not try to make up for previous losses by continuing to gamble.
If you keep gambling to win back lost money, this is typical of gambling addiction. “Chasing after” always leads to more losses.
Avoid risky gambling
This mainly includes slot machine games, online gambling, sports betting and gambling in casinos. There are many reasons why gambling can be risky. One reason for high addiction potential, for example, is a fast sequence of games. The faster the next game round starts, the sooner new money can be bet. This can lead to a gambling frenzy. In this state, those affected are no longer able to control their gambling behavior. The risks of the various gambling games are described here.
Do not gamble when you are in a bad mood.
If you gamble under stress and tension, it is very likely that you will bet more money or gamble longer than you intended. Do not go gambling to distract yourself from problems. By doing so, you risk making gambling itself a problem.
Do not gamble if you are under the influence of alcohol, medications, or drugs.
If you have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs, this can significantly lower your inhibition threshold for risky bets. High losses are almost always the result. So only gamble when you have a clear head.
Make sure that gambling only takes up a small part of your life
Gambling should only play a minor role in your life. If anything, you should only participate in gambling occasionally. Other leisure activities should always come first. These include meeting friends, playing sports, and other hobbies.
Coping with gambling problems
SELF-HELP OR INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING?
Since a strong will alone is usually not enough to sustainably change entrenched gambling behavior, you should prepare yourself as well as possible for your “Project Gambling-Free”. Therefore, we have compiled some information and worksheets that can support you in your project. Please note, however, that they do not replace individual counseling – rather, they are intended as an add-on to participation in the Check Your Game counseling program.
MAKE A DECISION
If you want to tackle gambling problems, you must first accept gambling as gambling. When you are ready to embark on your “Project Gambling-Free,” set clearly defined goals. You should weigh the pros and cons for yourself personally. If you are unsure, you can talk to a “check your gambling” counselor or advisor about your thoughts.
Three basic rules of gambling
“If you do it right, you can make a lot of money gambling.” The fact that the opposite of this statement is actually true for the vast majority of gamblers is due to general basic principles of games of chance, which, in summary, state the following: the longer you gamble, the more you will lose, despite all your efforts and despite the winnings that occur in between.
Basic rule “chance”
Although many gamblers leave no stone unturned to outsmart chance, it is an immutable basic principle behind any game of chance. This is especially true for games of chance in which participants have no influence at all on the outcome (e.g., slot machines, roulette, lotteries, etc.). The fact that some gamblers nevertheless feel that they can change the outcome of the game by means of luck strategies, actions and rituals is thus simply an illusion. However, there are some games of chance in which the outcome of the game depends to a very small extent on the skill of the players (e.g., sports betting, poker, stock market speculation). However, here too, most players significantly overestimate their own influence.
Basic rule “The provider always wins”
Gambling providers usually retain a certain share of the stakes placed, the house advantage. Slot machines, for example, are programmed in such a way that they only pay out part of the money wagered back to the players, despite any winnings in the meantime. The other part is retained by the machine. The longer you play, the more of your money is retained according to the immutable law of chance – until in the end nothing is left. The same applies, of course, to roulette, lotteries, betting, etc.
Basic rule “Occasional rewards have the strongest effect”
Why do many gamblers continue to participate in gambling despite an increasing loss record? Among other things, this is due to another basic principle, namely that a reward only has the strongest effect on exhibiting a behavior once in a while, i.e. not every time. This states, in simple terms, that players are encouraged to continue gambling by the winnings they obtain in between (however small they may be). They feel vindicated for their previous gambling behavior and continue to hope for the big jackpot – and play themselves deeper and deeper into the loss zone.
Quit or reduce?
If you want to change something about your gambling participation, the first question is whether you simply want to gamble less or stop completely.
We generally recommend that you stop gambling completely, at least for a few weeks or months. The reason for this is that many people who merely limit their gambling participation quickly go back to gambling just as much as before. People who make a clean break and stop gambling completely, on the other hand, often have a much easier time of it.
Since the stated goal of the counseling program is not to gamble at all for four weeks, the information provided here is designed to help you stop gambling.
We recommend that you take a sheet of paper and formulate your decision as precisely as possible on this as part of a contract with yourself. It should include whether you want to reduce or stop gambling altogether, and the date from which your decision will be implemented. If you are aiming for a reduction in your gambling behavior, you should set yourself clearly defined limits (e.g. a maximum amount per month, maximum number of gambling days per week), which should be well below your current gambling behavior.
In the end, remember: you can be proud of your decision!
Weighing the pros and cons
It’s often not easy to decide against an activity that, despite its negative consequences, also serves certain “positive” functions. For example, every person who participates in gambling has their own personal reasons for gambling, such as seeking the big win or to achieve thrill or relaxation.
Besides these points, there are others that might make you feel insecure in your decision. For example, you may see many difficulties coming your way if you stop gambling, such as having to deal with the problems that have arisen as a result.
But of course, this is only one side of the coin. For these “insecurity factors” are offset by the reasons why you are here: The problems that have developed as part of your gambling participation and the freedom and quality of life that awaits you once you have managed to get away from gambling.
We suggest that you also think about this and weigh the advantages and disadvantages that gambling participation has for you personally. On the one hand, this will help you to put your decision for a gambling-free life on a firmer footing; on the other hand, you will see for what reasons you may still be uncertain about this plan. If you are very unsure, you should discuss this with your Check Your Game counselor.
The easiest way to weigh up the pros and cons is to use a four-field scheme, such as the one shown here as an example.
Game stop: Advantages
…I would have more money for other things
…I would have more time for my children
…I would argue less with my wife
Stop playing: Disadvantages
…I would have to think about what I wanted to do instead
…I would have to deal with my debts & problems
…my gambler friends would not understand it
Keep playing: Advantages
…gambling is simply a thrill
…while playing I can switch off well
…most of my friends play
Continue playing: Cons
…I hardly do anything else & therefore have many debts
…I can’t sleep properly anymore, I worry so much
…there are problems at work because of that
Find supporters by reaching out to friends, a support group, or a counseling center. There’s a lot to do at this stage: Finding activities for your newfound free time, adding structure to your weekly schedule, and getting a handle on your debt on your own.
To best manage the challenges associated with your “Project Gambling-Free,” any support you can get from others is important, in addition to your participation in Check Your Game’s counseling program. So talk to people close to you about the problems you are facing in connection with your gambling participation and involve them in your project. With your trusted person(s), you can discuss how best to manage to change your gambling behavior and solve the problems associated with it. For this to be successful, honest interaction is very important.
No matter who you involve in your plan, we also recommend that you seek support from a support group or counseling center. In a support group, you will meet others who are facing similar challenges; in a counseling center, you can get professional advice.
Since gambling addiction is officially recognized as an illness in its own right, the costs of treatment are generally covered by pension insurance providers. The counseling center will help you find a place in therapy.
Under the menu item On-site counseling, you can search for self-help groups, counseling centers and specialized clinics in your area.
Change your daily schedule: Filling the gap
Especially if you’ve spent a lot of time gambling, you’ll have significantly more free time after your stop gambling than before. To avoid being tempted to gamble in the first place, think ahead about how you’ll spend this newfound time instead.
Do something good for yourself! In addition to the activities that are necessary to clarify your current life situation, you should definitely do things that reward you for your decision and help you cope with your current stress as well as possible (alcohol and drug use are not part of this, of course!). So it’s best to take some time and write down on a piece of paper,
… what leisure activities you used to enjoy.
… what you liked to do alone or with other people.
… which leisure activities and hobbies you have perhaps always wanted to try out.
… what you find particularly relaxing.
… what helps you when you are in a bad mood, anxious, frustrated or stressed.
For a better overview, we suggest structuring your work and free time day by day using a weekly plan. Take a step-by-step approach, for example by taking some time in the evening to plan the next day. Here you can find a weekly plan to print out.
Recognize stumbling blocks & develop control strategies
The main challenge on the road to a gambling-free life is to break the strong routine and habit that has crept in as part of your gambling participation. To accomplish this, you should identify the occasions and situations in which you usually gamble or have gambled and consider strategies for remaining abstinent in these situations in the future (“control strategies”).
On the one hand, such situations or occasions can be very concrete, so that a countermeasure is comparatively easy to find (e.g. “I often gamble when I have too much money with me. So I only take the most necessary money with me when I leave the house.”). However, many occasions or reasons to gamble are less easily identified. These include, for example, thoughts or feelings that tempt people to gamble, such as the desire to cope with everyday stress. To identify these occasions and develop appropriate control strategies for them, you should take some time.
We recommend that you print out and work through the Identifying Stumbling Blocks & Developing Control Strategies worksheet. It also describes how you can develop control strategies.
Our tip: Have other people or your Check Your Game counselor help you with this!
Restricting access to money
Many gamblers have lost control over their gambling behavior to such an extent that they only stop when they have no more money. If you feel similarly, especially in the beginning when the urge to gamble is still strong, you should limit your access to money – this is probably the most effective way to control your gambling behavior!
The following tips might help you:
When you go out, take only as much cash as you need for essentials.
Get rid of your debit card or have it held by someone who is privy to your plan.
Transfer power of attorney over your account to someone you trust. If you want to continue to have access to your account, you may want to significantly reduce your daily withdrawal limit.
Cancel your overdraft facility.
Remove your name from joint bank accounts.
Cancel your credit card and any online payment systems you’ve been using.
Tell friends and family members not to lend you money in the future.
Controlling your gambling behavior is greatly affected by your debt settlement. We can help you with this as well. Take a day to face your debt chaos. Calmly get clear on where you owe and how much you owe. Sort through all billing documents, dunning notices, court orders, etc. If you try to actively “tackle” this challenge, you will not only see your financial situation gradually ease – you will also notice that it feels good to get the problem out of the way under your own steam.
As a basis for your debt repayment plan, you should make a list of your debts and, in addition, of your current income and expenses. This will give you an overview of how much money you have left at the end of the month for your debt repayment. You can use the worksheets listed below to do this. Take some time and make sure to estimate everything as accurately and realistically as possible.
Especially if you are heavily in debt or if your financial situation is hardly manageable, you should seek support from others. Self-help groups or counseling centers for people with gambling problems can help you at this point, or you can contact a debt counseling center directly. You can search for a debt counseling center near you on the website of the Federal Working Group for Debt Counseling. Or you can ask at your local consumer advice center.
How do you react when you relapse to gambling behavior? It is important not to let it demotivate you, but at the same time to see the interruption as a warning signal. The counseling program “Check your game” supports you in this difficult phase.
What to do in case of a relapse?
If you have gambled again despite all good intentions, how you react to this relapse is crucial for the further success of your “Project Gambling-Free”. On the one hand, it doesn’t help to view an unwanted gambling episode as a catastrophe or a sign of personal failure (especially if you’ve already managed to control your gambling behavior before!), because this usually leads to resignation and giving up on your goal.
On the other hand, you should not downplay a relapse! It would be absolutely wrong to think that you are back in control and have overcome your gambling addiction. People addicted to gambling usually remain vulnerable to the addiction for many years after they have stopped gambling and run a high risk of falling back into their old gambling behavior if you gamble again.
Consider relapse a warning signal that your plan to control your gambling behavior still needs improvement. To avoid further relapses, try to get to the root of the problem and consider how to deal with it in the future – add to your list of stumbling blocks and alternatives.
Even though you may feel ashamed, we recommend that you contact your trusted person(s) immediately to discuss the causes and possible ways out together. In the counseling program, please use the corresponding exercise so that your counselor can give you detailed feedback on this.
The danger of falling off the wagon is particularly great in the first few months after you stop gambling – entrenched behaviors and thought patterns retain their strong hold for quite some time. In addition, everyday problems and challenges that you were not confronted with while gambling come more and more to the fore again after a few weeks. This is a perfectly normal process.
So be prepared for the difficulties you will encounter in the near future. Your participation in the consultation program or working through this information is a good start. The continued success of your “Project Play Free” depends on how well you apply what you’ve learned in your everyday life. So the point continues to be that you …
remember that you can only lose in the long run when you gamble.
Recognizing your personal “stumbling blocks” and developing counter-strategies on how best to react to them.
Have filled your newfound free time with activities that distract you from gambling and help you cope with everyday life.
Actively address your gambling debts.
Stay in touch with others and share your problems and challenges with them. Self-help groups are particularly suitable for this purpose.
In all likelihood, it will become apparent that your plan still needs improvement at one point or another. This is perfectly normal and no reason to question your plan. Therefore, consider it for what it is: a learning process that needs to be adjusted again and again. Therefore, in the following months, you should always make sure that you continue to refine your strategies so that gambling becomes less and less important in your life.