Gambling is a popular leisure activity that is enjoyed by many. There are lots of ways to gamble including playing the lottery, bingo, betting on sports, casino games or playing machines.
45% of people aged 16 and over will have taken part in some form of gambling activity during the last four weeks. The most popular form of gambling is playing the National Lottery, and for many people this is the only gambling they do. The most popular form of betting activity is on football and online gambling is on the increase.
(Source: Gambling Commission)
What is gambling?
In the Gambling Act 2005, gambling is defined as betting, gaming or participating in a lottery. This distinguishes between activities which need to be licenced and other activities that don’t. Different forms of gambling include:
Safer (Responsible) Gambling
Keeping gambling safe is all about setting limits. This could be as simple as deciding before you start how much money and time you will allow for the next time you gamble. Many people can stick to these self-imposed limits. For others they may need help in keeping to their plan.
Some tips to help you control your gambling:
If you think you are spending too much time or money gambling, whether online or in a gambling premises, you can ask to be self-excluded. This is when you ask the company to stop you gambling with them for a period of time, lasting for at least 6 months. It is up to you to stick to a self-exclusion agreement, but the company should make reasonable efforts to stop you. When you make a self-exclusion agreement the gambling company must close your account and return any money in it.
The Gamble Aware website contains more information about how to self-exclude: https://www.begambleaware.org/safer-gambling/how-to-self-exclude/
Before you transfer any money into a gambling account you should check that the organisation is licensed by the Gambling Commission. Licensed gambling business must show they are licensed and provide a link to the Gambling Commission license register: https://secure.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PublicRegister
When does gambling become a problem?
Problem gambling can affect anyone. It can happen at any age, to men or women and to people from any ethnic background. Studies have shown that you are more likely to develop a problem if you have a family history of problem gambling and if you started gambling at an early age.
Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as a hidden illness because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like there are with drug or alcohol addiction. Problem gamblers also typically deny or minimise the problem, even to themselves. Gambling addiction can be referred to as problem gambling or compulsive gambling. You are unlikely to know that someone has a gambling problem unless they tell you.
The impact of someone else’s gambling problem can be very stressful for friends and family members. Being a problem gambler can harm your health and relationships and leave you in serious debt.
There are some signs to look out for if you are worried about your own or someone else’s gambling:
There is evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions.
Self-help tips for problem gambling
The Gambling Commission has announced recent changes that mean it won’t be possible to use credit cards to make bets online anymore. Gamblers will need to use a debit card or cash deposited into an account. The Government is planning a wider review of the Gambling Act which will look into areas such as advertising, sponsorship and online gambling.
For help with gambling, try the following helplines and websites. Many of these sites offer a short self-assessment so you can assess whether you have a gambling problem.
National Gambling Helpline: 0808 8020 133
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