The article here talks about how internet and electronic gambling are the most addictive among other forms of gambling. One can easily see reasons why it is so: the secrecy that internet gambling provides, how very accessible gambling is on the internet and the solitary continuity of slot machines. Compared to gamblers who play sports betting, blackjack and other casino games, gamblers who play on slot and poker machines are more likely to become addicted. The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery refers to this types of electronic gambling as the ‘crack-cocaine’ of gambling.
The fact that one can always log in to gambling sites and play for hours without anyone noticing makes it easy for internet gamblers to become addicted. With internet gambling, the temptation is higher because while you can hold back on visiting a casino, the internet connection on your phone or computer provides quick access. Underage people who would be denied access at a physical betting establishment can gamble on the internet without any stress. It is harder to recover from this type of addiction because of its 24/7 availability. Electronic and internet gambling becomes an addiction when:
- You’re preoccupied with gambling: you relieve past gambling experiences over and over again, your thoughts border on when next you’ll be gambling or you devise ways of getting the money you need for gambling.
- You are driven to spend more money on gambling because you desire a certain level of excitement.
- Times without number, you fail to quit gambling no matter how hard you try
- You become restless and irritable when you try to withdraw from gambling
- You gamble to improve your mood or escape your problems.
- Losing money doesn’t make you give up, it makes you return another day to “chase losses”.
- You lie to loved ones or employers in a bid to cover up the money or time you’ve spent on gambling.
- Gambling makes you put your job, education and significant relationships on the line.
- You depend on others to provide money for you when gambling cripples your finances.
Gambling addicts have been known to suffer various mental issues like anxiety/panic disorder, depression, personality disorders, poor general health, substance abuse and most often, suicide. Out of shame, online gambling addicts can commit suicide. Problem gambling do not have any immediate physical effects unlike substance abuse. Nevertheless, gamblers have the same experiences like other addicts: cravings, loss of control, withdrawal symptoms, mood modification and relapse.
A lot of people’s lives have been ruined by online gambling, not only do gamblers hurt themselves, family members are also harmed. They often suffer stress-related mental and physical illness such as high blood pressure, headaches, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, loss of trust, broken family structure, and severe financial hardship. Children whose parents gamble are very much likely to develop gambling problems.
How Online Gambling Increases Addiction
There are certain characteristics of electronic and internet gambling that make it more potentially dangerous than betting at a casino or other physical locations:
- With a good internet connection, you can always gain access to online gambling sites. Meanwhile, getting to a casino is not always without stress and not all of them operate 24/7.
- Online gamblers can play whenever they want to without anyone knowing what they are up to or without being missed. But for casino or racetrack gamblers, their absence is bound to be noticed if they play for hours or days in a row.
- Compared to playing in a casino, gambling online is more comfortable, convenient and anonymous. Players can wager more money or spend more time gambling when they are heavily drunk and alone.
- The likelihood of “chasing losses” and impulse betting increases with online gambling because accessing your bank account online is very easy. If it were in a physical location, you might need to go withdraw money from the bank.
- It often feels like electronic money is not real money, this forgetfulness makes internet gambling very dangerous.
- Most internet gambling websites are not well regulated even if they are registered legally. So when problems arise, you can’t easily hold the owners responsible since you don’t know who is operating them.
- Physical betting locations can easily restrict problem or underage gamblers but even when there are restricting policies on online gambling sites, there’s no real way of enforcing them. It takes only an individual with a strong willpower to know when to stop.
- A crucial part of gambling compulsion treatment is having a strategy that prevents playing. It’s significantly more difficult to practice this strategy with online gambling.
How to beat online gambling
Recognize the signs
The first step towards recovery is to admit that you have a gambling problem. When addiction is still at the primary stage, you might find yourself preoccupied with thoughts of the next bet, justifying your recurrent bets because of the occasional wins and skipping work or lying to loved ones in order to gamble some more. You start borrowing, defaulting on debts or even stealing when you start accruing financial losses. Eventually, you may lose your spouse, your job or get arrested as you lost control. You might turn to drugs or alcohol to help you cope with your hopeless or desperate feelings. Yet, you can’t stop even with all these consequences that are coming your way. Admit you have a problem and rally for support from those you trust.
While it’s not possible to fully keep away from triggers because the internet is everywhere, you can restrict online gambling sites on your smartphone, computer and tablet. While at the early stage of recovery, try to minimize your screen time.
Speak with a financial advisor
It can help to place your finances in the hands of a trusted financial advisor till you fully recover from gambling. You can let him take charge of items like retirement savings in trusts that you cannot presently access.
Never try to quit on your own, addiction can be successfully treated like every other chronic diseases with the right help.