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Online casino: hobby or addiction?

04.03.2019 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin

Between 0.2 and 5.3% of adults worldwide suffer from ludomania [1], or pathological addiction to gambling. The more betting pools, arcade machines and casinos are there, the easier it is for a person to fall into the trap.

In Russia, gambling is prohibited by law, gambling business can be carried out only in 4 designated areas. Online casinos, however, flourish, regardless of the ban. Gambling addicts do not have to sneak out into underground gaming clubs, they can simply open casino homepage on any PC or mobile phone, provided it has internet connection.

Underground gambling business is very profitable: according to Mediascope analytic company and RBC magazine, a yearly turnover of betting in Azino777, the biggest online casino in Russia, is between 6 and 15 billion rubles.

Let’s learn about the perils of online casino and ways to help your loved ones overcome gambling addiction.

Contents:

  1. Perils of online casino
  2. Signs of gambling addiction
  3. Helping your loved one overcome addiction
  4. Solution to a problem

Perils of online casino

gambling
  1. Fascination with online betting seems quite innocent, but virtual coins are bought with real money. According to surveys, 28% of people find it easier to spend money online. [2] Online transfer allows people to finish the transaction with just one click.
  2. It’s easy to learn about a casino: aggressive advertisement with promises of billions in prize money appears online and is often inserted in pirated movies. Almost every person knows about the possibility for betting on the internet.
  3. A desire to get “easy money”, colorful pictures and full-time accessibility tempt people to make their first bet. Many sites offer bonuses at the start: double prize money, minimum sum on an account, etc. Thrill of expecting a prize becomes a drug that you cannot easily quit.

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Signs of gambling addiction

If you notice, for example, that your husband suddenly stopped getting his wages, he is always at PC or his phone, and you suspect he had taken a couple of loans, then he probably has an addiction.

A compulsive gambler can be recognized by the following signs:

  • a person always lies and tries to use cunning;
  • they always think about the game;
  • they have a compulsive desire to win back after losing;
  • they spend more than they can afford on the game;
  • they borrow money from friends, relatives and even strangers without returning it.
  • they cannot stop playing and get irritated when others try to make them;
  • they sense guilt.

The more the person is addicted to gambling, the more time and money they spend on the games.

Everything else becomes insignificant: relationships, career, health, everything.

People with pathologic gambling addiction can be divided in several groups:

  • “Escapists”. They wish to “escape reality”, relax and unwind. Such people often have other psychological and physical addictions, like alcohol, food and drug addictions. they are also often depressed.
  • “Lucky ones” (“The next will be a big one!”). Such people are usually men around 30 years old, active, aggressive and assertive. They feel like they must defeat others and seek to cheat the system.
  • “Genius mathematicians”. Such people are convinced that there is a certain consistency and try to calculate their victory. Like people from other groups, they are characterized by low self-esteem and tendency towards compulsive behavior.

Feeling of happiness in anticipation of a prize comes from increased dopamine level. [3] Randomized rewards only reinforce the habit. Eventually, a person feels the urge to get their thrill from the game over and over again.

High-risk population

There are certain activities that cannot be technically called “gambling”, but they still can cause an addiction due to their nature. The examples of these are stock market and cryptocurrency market investments, lottery tickets, betting on sports teams, etc.

A hobby turns into an addiction when it starts to negatively affect a person’s life. A desire to bet becomes so strong that all other activities lose their value compared to that thrill, and a person stops even noticing how they start spending more and more money and time on betting. This affects person’s relationships, career, health and other spheres of their life.

Helping your loved one overcome addiction

support of loved ones

A gambling addiction can absolutely destroy a person’s life. Faced with a problem, a person may distance themselves from others, limit their social interactions, and in result they may even commit suicide.

It is almost impossible to overcome gambling addiction, as it can only become worse. People with such condition require professional help. The first thing you should do is support your loved one and suggest the ways to solve the problem. Remember: the person may not even notice their addiction, even if it is obvious for everyone around them.

First you should ask them whether they feel that their gambling hobby is becoming a problem. Let them know you support them. Do not blame them or judge them. Simply explain that they are not at fault, they just need to change their behavior, and you are ready to be by their side until the very end. In most cases people succeed in overcoming their gambling addiction for good, without the risk for relapse.

The following reasoning can help:

  • Gambling business is built upon mathematical models that do not favor the player. The probability of success is minimal. You cannot win back the money you owe to others.
  • Gambling is a tedious activity that doesn’t require mental processing.
  • Whole departments of marketing experts work on making people continue gambling and spending their money. Do not let them manipulate you.
  • There is no shame in asking for help. Acknowledging your problem is not weakness but wisdom.

If your family member has a gambling addiction, you may create a joint account to control their spending. If the gambling addiction got your friend, you can offer them to take control over their spending and give them money only for necessities. Another option for overcoming the addiction is blocking access to all gambling sites on their end.    

What you should definitely NOT do:

  • gamble together with an addict
  • gamble together with an addict
  • cover their lies;
  • lend them money.

Solution to a problem

Gambling is not a mere fascination but a serious addiction. People require support from their family and friends, and, of course, professional help in order to overcome their obsession with gambling.

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Medication can reduce acute symptoms, but a person can still relapse if they keep their old behavior patterns.

A good way to help them is our 7Spsy technique.  It is a scientifically approved and effective method for treating gambling addiction. [4] The course of behavior modification lasts from 2 to 6 weeks. Everyday a patient completes the tasks from the course and works on changing their behavior patterns. You will soon notice the difference, and the only thing left will be solidifying this experience and performing conscious actions until they become second nature.

As the result, your loved one will learn to enjoy their life without gambling and will value family relationship and their job once again.

References:

  1. Jazaeri, S. A., & Habil, M. H. (2012). Reviewing two types of addiction – pathological gambling and substance use. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(1), 5-11.
  2. Gainsbury S. M. (2015). Online Gambling Addiction: the Relationship Between Internet Gambling and Disordered Gambling. Current addiction reports, 2(2), 185-193.
  3. Rutledge, R. B., Skandali, N., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. J. (2014). A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(33), 12252-7.
  4. Oakley-Browne MA, Adams P, Mobberley PM. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD001521. Review. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(1):CD001521.