There’s no harm in making a bet or buying a lottery every ticket once in a while, but for some of us, gambling can be more of a problem. With the UK spending over £260 million each year on gambling, there’s more recognition of the potential financial, mental and physical consequences. If you’re worried about the impacts of your gambling (or a loved one’s), there are steps you can take to help get you back on track and support available to help you on the way.
Is gambling taking control of your life?
A gambling problem doesn’t have to mean you’re totally out of control, but excessive gambling can cause issues in relationships, your job, mental health and even legal repercussions. People of all different backgrounds may be affected by gambling. If it disrupts your life, you may want to rethink your relationship with gambling.
Try GamCare’s quick test to help you assess your relationship with gambling, for example.
Some helpful things to consider:
- Are your loved ones worried about your gambling habits? Do you feel the need to hide that you’re gambling from them?
- When you gamble, do you ever dip into resources and savings earmarked for other things, such as bills, rent, credit cards?
- Do you have trouble stopping gambling once you’ve started?
How to minimise the impacts of gambling
If you feel gambling influences your life in a negative way, there are some simple steps you can take to help minimise the impact.
Self-exclusion: Ask a gambling operator to exclude you from gambling with them for a set length of time. They'll close your account and return any money in your account to you, and refuse service in the venues you’ve excluded yourself from. They will also remove your name and details from any marketing databases they use which can to help remove temptation.
Online blocker: Try using blocking software which will stop you from accessing online gambling sites. There are a number of useful programs that help prevent gambling sites from loading on your devices, such as Gamblock or Betfilter.
Change to a card that blocks gambling transactions, such as Monzo or Starling. Both provide app-based banking, so you can then turn this blocker on in the app, or talk to their customer service team to start things off. Plus, they provide resources to check in with if you turn this back on. From 14 April 2020, new laws come into effect so that you won’t be able to use a credit card to gamble.
Contact your internet provider: They often have filters or blockers where you can opt-out of adult content or block gambling sites.
Most importantly, reach out for help: You shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. It’s never too late to make changes. There are many free support programmes, such as Gamblers Anonymous, and the National Gambling Helpline is just a call away. It’s confidential, 24/7, and open to both those worried about their own gambling and anyone who is affected by someone else's gambling.
If you’re worried about gambling, or about a loved one’s gambling habits, it’s best to address this sooner rather than later. By setting limits (or taking a complete break if possible) on gambling, you’ll help yourself gamble more responsibly. If you have difficulty staying away, seek additional help - we’ve included some helpful links below.
Gamble Aware Tips for gambling safely