The preponderance of online gambling sites is a luxury that has had unintended consequences. On one hand, people are able to enjoy themselves gambling and possibly win some money in the process. In other parts of the world, such as the U.S., online gambling is in a state of flux. In the UK however, it’s easier than ever to find and use a reputable gambling website.
On the other hand, the availability of gambling sites has led some to problem gambling. Gambling has the potential to cause addiction, creating societal problems that need addressing.
The UK takes an educational and self-exclusion approach to the problem of problem gambling. They have various resources dedicated to helping those that fall victim to gambling addiction. With the advent of the GamStop gambling self-exclusion list, those that feel they have a problem can now self-exclude themselves from online casinos.Are you concerned that you or a loved one may have a gambling problem? Read on to learn about the signs of problem gambling, how you can get help, and what Gamstop is.
Problem gambling is the urge to continue gambling despite the negative consequences it causes the person or those around them. The behaviour of the gambler isn’t as relevant as whether that behaviour causes harm to the gambler or others.
These negative consequences can either be social or familial in nature. The DSM-5 used to classify the condition as an impulse control disorder, but now the DSM-5 classifies it as an addictive disorder. This distinction is an important one, as many of the symptoms are similar in nature to those that suffer from substance abuse.
Problem gambling and substance abuse both seek to activate the brain’s reward mechanisms. This desire leads to impulsive decisions that can wreak havoc on both someone’s family and social life. For example, problem gambling might lead someone to gamble away money designated for rent or electricity. Even though the person knows that they are putting their rent money at risk, the impulse becomes too strong to resist as they chase their reward. There are some universal signs of problem gambling that everyone should know:
To receive a diagnosis of problem gambling, someone should display at least four of these signs. Of course, any of these signs on their own are troubling, but four or more shows a problem that will escalate if not helped.
Those that show severe signs of problem gambling may receive a diagnosis of clinical pathological gambling. This group consists mostly of men (70-80%). Often, pathological gamblers have more than one mental condition. One study in Germany found that 90% of those diagnosed with pathological gambling had another mental condition that fed into the gambling problem and vice versa. Gambling became a self-treatment of sorts for depression, for example. After gambling and losing money, the person would fall into a deeper depression, thus gambling more to alleviate their pain. It’s a vicious cycle if left untreated.
The dilemma is that many people either don’t recognize their own problem or are unwilling to seek out help. They’ve become so well-versed at lying to hide their problem that those around them don’t recognise it until it becomes a crippling issue.There is also the question of how someone can find out if they either have a problem or are heading towards one. For that, there are some questions to ask yourself.
Think about each of these statements and answer them on a 1-10 scale. An answer of 10 applies completely to you, while an answer of 1 does not apply at all.
“Over the last three months, I gamble longer than I intend to.”
For this question, consider the times that you’ve forgotten how long you’re gambling. Are there situations where you plan to waste an hour gambling, but you instead spend three hours gambling?
“Over the past three months, I’ve sometimes lost track of the time when gambling.”
Have you ever sat down to gamble in a live setting or online after work, only to look up and realize that it’s 3am? Have you ever missed appointments or missed time with your family and friends because you’ve zoned out and not realized what time it was while gambling?
“Over the past three months, other people have said that I spend too much time gambling.”
It’s important to take other’s opinions into account. You might not recognize that you have a problem, but those closest to you will notice a change in behaviour that’s detrimental to you. Has anyone commented that you spend too much time gambling, or that you ‘seem to gamble a lot lately’?
“Over the past three months, I’ve spent time gambling when I should have been doing something else.”
Have you missed a deadline at work but still found time to gamble? Have you noticed that your relationships are beginning to feel strained? Do you not have time to clean your house but still find time to ‘blow off some steam’ by gambling? Priorities are an important part of maintaining a healthy life; the rest of your life shouldn’t suffer because of the time you spend gambling.
“Over the past three months, I’ve sometimes gambled more money than intended.”
If you know that you can afford to gamble a hundred pounds, have you lost track of how much money you’ve gambled during a session?
“Over the past three months, I’ve spent money trying to win back money I’ve lost.”
Do you find yourself chasing bad bets or trying to ‘get even’ by spending more money?
“Over the past three months, I’ve gambled with money that should’ve went to something else.”
Have you had to push back bills that are due but still found money to gamble? Do you gamble even though you have no savings set aside?
“Over the past three months, I’ve borrowed money to gamble with.”
Have you taken out a loan to support your gambling? Have you had to ask friends or family members to loan you money so that you can gamble?
“Over the past three months, I’ve made sure to not tell anyone how much time and/or money I’ve spent gambling.”
Sometimes the most important information we share is what we neglect to tell others. If you don’t want to tell others how much time and money you spend gambling, there could be a part of you that knows something is off.
“People close to me tell me that I gamble too much.”
Do close friends or immediate family members see a problem that you don’t? It’s harder to recognize faults in ourselves, so we should always listen to those around us.
“Over the past three months, I’ve felt bad when thinking about how much I’ve lost gambling.”
Do you feel guilty about how much money you’ve spent gambling? Guilt is a powerful indicator. When we feel guilty, it’s because we’ve done something that we know isn’t right. If you feel guilt over how much you’ve spent and continue to do it anyways, it could be a sign that you have a problem.
“Over the past three months, my gambling has left me short on funds.”
If you can’t pay your bills or take care of necessities because of gambling, it’s problematic. Most people don’t consider other things that they need money for, though. Have your friends asked you out to eat but you couldn’t go because you’ve lost money gambling? What about car maintenance and other needs? Do they suffer because of lost funds?
“Over the past three months, I’ve felt restless if I don’t have the opportunity to gamble.”
If you go on holiday, do you check first to see if there’s a place to gamble? Do you feel restless or anxious if there isn’t? If you know that you have to work a long shift and won’t be able to gamble, does that make you feel restless?
“Over the past three months, I’ve sometimes felt bad when thinking about my gambling.”
Does the act of gambling itself make you feel bad or guilty? Do you have an inner voice telling you that you should do it, but you feel compelled to anyways?
“Over the past three months, gambling has left me feeling irritated.”
Does gambling make you irritable? Does a loss upset you more than it reasonably should? Does the act of gambling on its own irritate you but you still feel compelled to do it?
“Over the past three months, I’ve thought that I might have a gambling problem.”
If you’ve ever felt like you have a problem with gambling, there’s a possibility that you do. No one knows how you feel but you. Listening to your internal instincts is an important part of the process to.
If you’ve scored yourself between 16 and 52, you generally have a healthy relationship with gambling. A score between 53 and 96 means that you’re at increased risk of either having a problem or developing one. The higher your score is to 96, the more likely it is that you’ve already developed a problem. A score over 96 implies that you have a gambling problem and should seek some sort of help.
It’s important to note that even if you fall into the first category, If you answered any question with a grade higher than five you could have a problem.
There are many things you can do if you have a problem with gambling.
First, you can seek help through GamCare. Call them at 0808 802 0133 for counselling over the phone. They also provide in-person counselling if you choose. You can call this number and receive help and resources to combat your vices.
If you live in England or Wales and have problems relating to gambling, you can also refer yourself to the NHS National Gambling Clinic for help.
You can also contact the Gordon Moody Association for residential courses. Email [email protected] or give them a call at 01384 241292. The association also runs the Gambling Therapy website, which offers help to both gamblers and their family and friends.Gamblers Anonymous UK is another powerful tool that runs local support groups. It uses a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. GamAnon runs support groups for family and friends.
It’s also important to talk to your family and friends to let them know that you recognise the problem and are seeking help. They can help to hold you accountable and manage your addiction. Other tools recently available to those that live in the UK is GamStop, GamCare, and BeGambleAware. Let’s look at what these are and how they can help those with a gambling problem, with a special attention to GamStop.
Using Gamstop, those that have problems with gambling can register to have themselves blocked from all gambling sites registered in England, Scotland, and Wales. The service began its early registration on April 26, 2018. There are currently dozens of gambling websites registered with the service.
By signing up with Gamstop, a gambler can block themselves from online casinos and other forms of gambling for six months, one year, or five years. If they already have accounts on gambling websites at the time of signing up, these sites will also block their access. If they have money in one of these accounts, they’ll need to contact them about getting their funds out.
In due course, the Gambling Commission will require all websites to register for the service. Most major sites, such as Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and Betfair have already signed up and block the accounts of those that sign up for the service.
The first thing to do is go to GamStop’s registration site. You’ll need to read the information on that page and have some information available before you begin the process.
To sign up, you’ll need the following information such as first and last name, date of birth, contact number as primary email address.
Once you enter your information, you’ll receive an email summarising the details of your exclusion. It can take up to 24 hours to process, but it could go through immediately. You’ll want to make sure that you keep your information up-to-date with the program if you’re serious about stopping gambling. In a moment of weakness, you could potentially sign up with a site if your information isn’t accurate.
Once you’re excluded, you won’t be able to sign up for any of the participating online casinos and gambling sites. You also can’t log in to any existing sites. If you have an account on a site that has money in it, you’ll have to contact that site to find out how you can get your money back. Make sure to read the site’s terms and conditions beforehand so that you know whether you’re eligible for a return of your invested funds.
Apart from GamStop, gamblers that believe they have a problem have other resources as well.
GamCare is an organization that began in 1997. The mission of this registered charity is to provide information and resources that help those with gambling addictions. It also provides resources for those affected by the vices of other people.
GamCare operates the National Gambling HelpLine on freephone at 0808 8020 133. They also provide face to face counselling services for those affected. Another service of GamCare is that they offer free training and documentation to those that work in the gambling industry. They view gambling addiction as an issue that needs a holistic solution that includes the gamblers and the gambling business.
BeAwareGambling is another service available to those in Britain. Like GamCare, they provide resources to help those that fall victim to problem gambling. They also provide access to an app on which gamblers can take a self-assessment test and get live text-based support. Both of these organisations, along with GamStop, have helped thousands of people learn how to gamble responsibly.
Getting unblocked from GamStop isn’t as easy as waiting for your chosen exclusion time to elapse. You won’t automatically get renewed, but you’ll still remain on the list. You’re stuck in a gambling purgatory of sorts.
To get off of the exclusion list, you need to contact GamStop over the phone or through a web client. You’ll want to explain that you signed up and that your exclusion period has expired. Tell them that you would like to get removed from the exclusion list and they will lift it. It could take up to 24 hours to lift it.
According to GamStop, over 90% of the UK based online casinos have signed up to be a part of the exclusion list, with the remainders currently in the process of signing up.
There are some casinos that take UK residents, but those are the ones not subject to UK regulations. This can be problematic for a number of reasons.
First, a casino based in a jurisdiction not under the regulatory eyes of the UK government could be an unscrupulous organization. These casinos set up for a small amount of time, get money from those attempting to skirt GamStop’s exclusion limits, and then close, keeping the deposits they’ve accumulated.
Using a casino that’s not licensed by the UK Gambling Commission is in violation of UK law. The site itself is not acting in accordance with the law, meaning that there’s no reason for them to play fair when you gamble your money. If you choose to use one of these sites, good luck.
In England, unlike other parts of the world, gambling legislation is pretty straight-forward. There are three main components to the legislation passed thus far.
In 2005, Parliament passed the Gambling Act, which created the UK Gambling Commission. This commission is in charge of online gambling in the UK, along with the national lottery.
The Gambling Commission has the authority to issue a license to operators. They also have the power to impose fines and revoke licenses if it deems these steps necessary. The objectives of the Commission, in accordance with the Gambling Act of 2005, is three fold:
Only companies who base their operations in the UK can have a license from the Gambling Commission. This helps stop companies from claiming immunity to the regulations set forth by the Gambling Act of 2005.
There are, however, certain jurisdictions that are on a whitelist of approved operators. Operators that get a license from one of those jurisdictions can serve UK customers because they are still held to the Gambling Act.
There are some recent changes to the laws. For example, on April 1st of 2019, operators will face new advertising regulations. They will no longer be able to place ads on any platform where 25% of the audience is under the age of 18.
Celebrities, footballers, and other athletes under the age of 25 can no longer appear in gambling ads either, in an attempt to curb youth betting. Athletes that are over 25 but appear younger to a reasonable person are also barred from these ads, as are cartoon characters.
There are also going to be new restrictions beginning in October of 2019 involving set-odd gambling, such as slot machines.
The Labour Party has come out and said that they wish to restrict gambling even more should they come back into power. Where that might lead is anyone’s guess, but we will keep you up-to-date as new developments occur.
It isn’t only legal responsibility that online gambling operators hold themselves too. Many websites have responsible gambling campaigns that encourage those with problems to get help. Most gambling websites place limits on how much money someone can place in there account on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This helps stopping someone from putting their entire paycheck into a gambling account every week.
Websites also have their own checks to ensure that minors aren’t using their platform to place bets. A high proportion of problem gamblers started when they were children. By limiting access to youth, these sites take a proactive response to stopping gambling addiction.
Many of these sites recognise that if they don’t take their social responsibility serious, they could face a public backlash. It makes business sense to take a proactive approach while it’s also the morally right thing to do.
The most important thing to take away from this article is that if you have a problem, there’s nothing wrong with seeking help. There should never be a stigma associated with problem gambling. It takes great strength to get the help you need. Take the first step by signing up with the GamStop gambling exclusion list.
If you need more information about pending UK legislation or the world of trusted online casinos in general, we have everything you need. If you’re looking for trusted online casinos with no deposit, we feature reviews to help you choose the best option. Check out our guides to find the type of gambling action you’re looking for. Of course, remember to always gamble in a responsible manner.