Gambling is everywhere; it’s on our streets and on our mobiles, tablets and tellies.
Gambling comes in many forms including betting on sports, buying scratch cards, roulette, poker or slots all of which are now accessible online 24 hours a day. In addition to the easy access to online gambling, in 2007 the government relaxed rules on gambling advertisement meaning betting and gaming companies can advertise across all media, however they must follow rules to ensure they advertise in a socially responsible way.
For the majority of people gambling is harmless fun, whether it’s buying a scratch card with your spare change or putting a pound in a fruit machine. However for an increasing amount of young people around the country gambling is becoming a much bigger problem.
Signs associated with a possible gambling problem:
- Are you secretive about your gambling?
- Do you have problems controlling your gambling?
- Are you gambling when you don’t have the money?
- Family and friends are concerned about your gambling?
When gambling becomes an addiction it can have catastrophic effects. Compulsive gambling is classified as an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Simply put gambling is a problem if it causes problems.
Gambling can have serious consequences on your bank balance with people running up eye-watering debt on a daily basis. It can also affect the gamblers’ mental health, relationships and career.
According to GamCare’s annual statistics for 2012-13, 8,813 contacted GamCare for help in the last year and 63% of those people were aged 18-35 years old. GamCare provides support, information and advice to anyone suffering through a gambling problem. They are funded by the gambling industry and offer a helpline and netline where advisors can give emotional support, information and advice.
If you notice your gambling has become a problem you can request to be excluded from most betting sites, request to speak to a member of the sites team and explain you need to be excluded from gambling on this site as it is becoming a problem. If you gamble in a betting shop you can also request to be excluded from being allowed to gamble in that store.
We spoke to John, 22 from Glasgow* about his experience with gambling and he said;
Compulsive gambling took control of my life it went from a £5 bet a night to £500 bets within a couple of years.
Gambling took over my thoughts everyday and I found myself completely unable to control myself. I would spend my wages before I got them and would stack up debt by trying to gamble my way out of it.
I now don't gamble and have accepted that my gambling was a problem. With the support of my family, friends and fellow sufferers at GA meetings I was able to recover.
The debt is still there and I now need to earn my way out of it and take no short cuts to make sure I never go back to my old ways.
Where to Get Help
Gambling addiction can be a serious issue for any individual and can also contribute to wider social problems, but with the right support and guidance you can tackle the problem.
Gambling is illegal for under 18's in the UK, the only exception being the national lottery, lotteries (such as scratch cards) and football pools for which you have to be 16 or over. Find out more about gambling regulation at Gamble Aware.
If you’re worried about your gambling habits or are worried about a friend or relative you can seek help through GamCare or GA Scotland.
*details have been changed to maintain anonymity.