At Best Odd Slots, we talk a lot about playing online slots and casino games. They are fast, fun, and have the potential of dishing out some massive wins. Therefore, it’s important to stay as they are – a source of fun and entertainment and not a source of worry. We’ll make no bones about it: they can be very addictive. Although an entertaining and exciting hobby, in case of an absence of boundaries, for some people, it can turn into something potentially dangerous and destructive. So, it’s important to know how to play them responsibly.
Our commitment is to provide not only tips about an enjoyable gaming experience but a safe environment for our readers. Therefore, in case you are beginning to worry that playing these games by you or a loved one is starting to get out of control, keep reading to learn about the resources available to help you understand the problem and receive any help necessary.
How to Recognize a Problem?
Do you ever think about how often you or your loved one is playing slots? Once a week? Twice a week? Every night? Or maybe at work, or on the train/in a bus heading home, in front of a TV on a tablet or smartphone? There is nothing wrong with playing casino games on occasion, even being a high roller who enjoys betting large amounts of money. This doesn’t necessarily make someone a “problem gambler”. On the other hand, it is also possible for occasional low stakes players to develop a disorder, depending not only on how often they play but also on the behavior they exhibit related to their play.
At times, people can be in complete denial about it, but there are certain criteria provided by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), that can help you recognize if you are at risk. It’s important to face inwards and be sincere while answering the following questions. If you say ‘yes’ to more than 3 of these questions, we suggest you seek some guidance from a professional. If at least four of these questions are answered with ‘yes’, a disorder is considered mild; six are regarded as a moderate disorder, while eight or more indicate a severe problem.
- Do you need to constantly increase the amount of money in order to feel the desired excitement from playing?
- Does trying to cut down or stop playing cause restlessness or irritability?
- Do you use gambling as a way to deal with feelings of distress?
- Have you repeatedly tried to control or stop your gambling but you constantly fail?
- Do you at times lie to your loved ones to hide how much you gamble?
- Are you preoccupied with gambling?
- Do you catch yourself chasing your losses, betting more in order to recover money that has been lost?
- Have you relied on others to provide you money to pay your bills after losing your money on slots?
- Have your gambling activities ever jeopardized a major relationship, job, or educational opportunity, or even caused the loss of it?
- Do you notice having mood swings or sudden bursts of anger?
- Have you cashed in savings or insurance plans so that you can continue gambling?
- Do you suffer from headaches, stomach problems, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite since you started gambling?
- Have you stopped doing things you previously loved and enjoyed?
- Are there any changes to your eating or sexual habits that can be related to gambling?
- Have you been ignoring self-care, work, school, or family obligations?
- Do you cheat or steal to get money for gambling or paying gambling debts?
Answering “yes” to one or two of these questions occasionally may not be enough to suggest a serious issue, but if several apply to you, and if these behaviors are interfering heavily with your life and daily activities, then you may be encountering a problem.
Where to look for help?
If you suspect either you or a loved one has a problem with gambling addiction, it’s important to know you’re not alone. This can be treated as any other psychological condition. Most jurisdictions offering legal gambling, also provide support systems for those in need. If this is not the case, there are numerous anonymous groups, call centers, and professionals trained for these kinds of issues that you can contact any time you need.
There are a lot of self-help groups that operate on a local and international level that help discuss, connect and work through the issues with others who have gone through (or are in the middle of) the same process. Some of the most well-known international groups are Gamblers Anonymous and Bettors Anonymous that organize their meetings world-wide. Gam-Anon from California is a group created to give support to family members of a person with a gambling problem.
For those who feel the urge to instantly talk about their problems, another way of getting help is through hotlines or live chats. They give off resources, information, and directions on how to look for further help with gambling addiction and whom you can turn to, as well as emotional support. They are free of charge and available 24/7 for every person out there. Just as most anonymous groups, they operate on a local and international level. There are call center number listings available by states that are easily accessible for anyone in need. Also, GamCare Netline’s live chat that operates in the UK is a great example of a live chat service dedicated to people dealing with a gambling problem who are more comfortable with writing about their issues (they also provide telephone support). These kinds of services are easily accessible with the utmost confidentiality.
Likewise, depending on the state, you can always look for anonymous professional help, from a local therapist trained for these issues.
How to Gamble Responsibly: Tips
Many people gamble for enjoyment, or just for the sake of gambling, but others think of gambling as a way to make money or even use gambling to distract themselves from everyday problems. However, it is important to have some rules about how you gamble so you can keep yourself safe and keep your playing fun and enjoyable.
1. Don’t think of gambling as a way to make easy money.
Gambling is designed for the venue to make money, not the other way around. Thinking that gambling is a way to make money will, over time, make you give away far more money than you receive.
2. Decide how much money you can spend on gambling.
You can make a budget that will serve only for entertainment. Decide how much money you can spend on gambling, and make sure you are never exceeding that budget.
3. Set a time limit beforehand.
You can decide how much time you will spend on gambling. Set an alarm clock, and when the time is up – walk away! The more time you spend gambling, the more money you’re likely to lose.
4. Don’t try to chase your losses.
If you set your money limit and lose it, but then decide to win some of it back before you go, then you haven’t set any limits. Chasing losses usually leads to even bigger ones.
5. Stay out of gambling when depressed or upset.
Make sure you play only when you are clear-headed and content. Stress and emotional upset can adversely affect your decision-making.
6. Balance gambling with other activities.
If it becomes your only form of entertainment, it’s unlikely you’re still just doing it for fun. It’s a far greater indicator that you are having a problem. Make sure you are keeping your activities intact, as well as having other means of having fun.
7. Don’t gamble when under the influence of substances.
Just as being in a bad mood can affect your decision-making and rationality, substances can have a much greater impact on your judgment, making it distorted and biased, and making you more impulsive.
8. Learn how to take healthy breaks, even restrictions, and self-exclusion when needed.
Gambling continuously can cause you to lose track of time and perspective. Make regular breaks between the games. If needed, take a longer break from it – maybe for a couple of days, or a week or two, or even a month. It’s important to keep your head cool.