Only about 1% of Australians are likely to be impacted by problem gambling, but this statistic does not help if you happen to fall in that 1%. This section explains what problem gambling is, how you can avoid succumbing to it and steps you need to take if you get affected by it.
Problem gambling or gambling addiction is a situation the player finds himself in when he is unable to stop gambling. He can neither control the amount of money or the time he spends gambling. He feels uneasy when he is not gambling. If he is winning he wants to gamble more because he believes he is on a winning streak. If he is losing then he wants to gamble to recover his losses. He will engage in any rationalisation to justify gambling. He does not realise that he has become addicted to gambling.
Extensive research has been done on problem gambling. The conclusion is that problem gambling is a pathological condition. This means that the act of continuing to gamble despite the harm caused in not wilful, but something the player is compelled to do as a result of the illness he is suffering from. It is just like any substance abuse problem. The pathological tendency for problem gambling could be latent in many more players than actually experience it.
The key to treatment of problem gambling is recognising it early. Therefore the best Australian online casinos lay stress on gambling in a responsible manner. They also provide players with tools for recognising problem gambling symptoms.
The symptoms of problem gambling manifest mildly at first and then increase gradually. When a player realises that he is addicted most of the damage is done. The damage is in two areas – money and time. The player needs more and more money to fund the gambling addiction. The first casualties are the savings and the contingency funds. Then the player begins to eat into regular household expenses. As the level of problem gambling becomes more severe he will start borrowing money and finally even resort to stealing. Similarly he will stop spending time with family and friends in order to meet his urge for gambling. At the worst he will gamble during work hours and risk losing his job.
The biggest pitfall of problem gambling is that people other than the player are affected as well. The family, including spouse, children and dependent parents, suffer because of the money and time diverted to problem gambling. The second level includes friends and colleagues, especially if they have lent money to the problem gambler. They are unlikely to get it back. The Australian government estimates that the social cost to the community of problem gambling is at least AU$4.7 billion a year.
You begin by treating online gambling as an entertainment activity. You spend money on online gambling just as you spend it on other forms of entertainment. In online gambling you should expect that you will win at times and that you will lose at other times and you have to take both with equanimity.
Our recommended online casinos include a Problem Gambling Self Test in the responsible gambling section. It will indicate whether you have the symptoms of problem gambling. You should take these tests at regular intervals, at least once in every six months. The questions are aimed at assessing whether you are spending more time and money on online gambling. They also cover the sources of funds used for online gambling, relationships with family and friends and the player’s emotions with respect to gambling issues.If the tests indicate that you have a problem gambling issue the first thing to do is accept it and discuss it with the family. You should opt for the cooling off period facility offered by the online casinos. During this period you will be denied access to the online casinos. If the problem persists then you should seek professional guidance.
There are several professional organisations in Australia that offer problem gambling assistance free of cost. Some of these are Gamblers Anonymous Australia, Relationships Australia, Lifeline.org and GamblingHelpOnline.org.au. All of them have units in each state. Gamblers Anonymous functions just like Alcoholics Anonymous, through group meetings. Australia Relationships runs two specialist programs called Break Even and Gambler's Help that are based on face to face counselling. Lifeline.org and GamblingHelpOnline.org.au are better in the sense they allow the affected player to start treatment anonymously. This brings many more problem gamblers into the fold of treatment.
There are different types of resources available for problem gambling help. The first step is the online literature at the web sites of the above mentioned organisations. It is recommended that even the spouse or close friend of the problem gambler goes through the literature so as to be of greater help. The initial interaction with a counsellor can be done through online live chat with the assurance of anonymity and confidentiality so as to make the problem gambler feel more comfortable. There are online forums that facilitate interactions with other problem gamblers. This should eventually lead to face to face counselling, where the discussions will include sorting out the financial problems that have arisen and preventive methods that should be adopted for the future.