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I am gambling too often

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Many people in Britain gamble. Recent research by the Gambling Commission, the official regulator for gambling in Britain, suggests that 45% of adults have participated in gambling in the past four weeks. National Lottery draws are the most popular gambling activity while regular betting adverts on sports programmes can make gambling seem harmless or easy to win. 


Many people gamble safely and for fun but it’s possible for gambling to become a problem. Problem gambling is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop.

Problem gambling has been called the ‘hidden addiction’, meaning that unlike other addictions such as alcohol or drug addiction, the physical effects of the problem are very difficult to see. You are unlikely to know that someone has a gambling problem unless they tell you. The impact of problem gambling can be stressful for family members and friends. 


Problem gambling can affect anyone. It can happen at any age, to males or females, and to people from any ethnic background. Studies have shown that you are more likely to develop a problem if you have a family history of problem gambling and if you started gambling at an early age. 

What can I do about it?

The first thing to do, though it’s not easy, is to recognise that you’re gambling too often and have a problem. The following signs may indicate a problem: 

  • Spending more money and time on gambling than you can afford.
  • Finding it hard to manage or stop your gambling.
  • Having arguments with family or friends about money and gambling.
  • Losing interest in usual activities or hobbies like going out with friends or spending time with family.
  • Always thinking or talking about gambling.
  • Lying about your gambling or hiding it from other people.
  • Chasing losses or gambling to get out of financial trouble.
  • Gambling until all of your money is gone.
  • Borrowing money, selling possessions or not paying bills in order to pay for gambling.
  • Needing to gamble with larger amounts of money or for a longer time to get the same feeling of excitement or buzz.
  • Neglecting work, school, family, personal needs or household responsibilities because of gambling.
  • Feeling anxious, worried, guilty, depressed or irritable.

Once you recognise that you may have a problem with gambling, the following may help you to come to terms with the issue:


1.Self exclude
Self-exclusion is a process which allows you to ask a gambling operator to exclude you from gambling with them for a set length of time – usually between six months and five years. In practice, self-exclusion means you will be refused service in the venues where you have self-excluded. By law, self-exclusion must be provided as an option by gambling operators in the UK.
Responsibility for sticking with self-exclusion lies with you but you can expect the operator to do all they reasonably can to help you. If you think self-exsclusion could work for you, make sure you exclude yourself from all the places where you may tempted to gamble. 


To self-exclude from one venue you need to visit that particular venue and let a member of staff know you want to self-exclude. You need to take a passport sized photo of yourself for the form you are required to fill out. 


To self-exclude from several venues in your area, phone 0800 294 2060.


Counselling is an opportunity for you to discuss issues or concerns with a professional in a safe, confidential, non-threatening, accepting environment. The counsellor's role is to assist you to resolve your own problems and explore options to make life choices clearer.


You may be nervous about getting counselling. The first thing to remember is that tens of thousands of people have already had counselling and the evidence shows that it works well for most people.


Generally, you can expect from counselling: 

  • Professional, confidential and free service
  • A thorough assessment of your gambling and other related issues
  • Information
  • Referral to other agencies if they can help
  • Counselling for gambling
  • Counselling for other issues
  • Counselling can be individual, couple, family or group based. Goals are worked out with you. You decide whether to stop or control your gambling and which other issues to address.

Counselling is often free and and you don't have to see a counsellor where you live - if you would prefer to talk to someone in an area away from your home and work, you can choose to do so. Counselling can also be offered online. 


3.Gambling Therapy App
A Gambling Therapy app has been developed with features centred on evidence-based therapies, such as mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).


The free app provides a collection of tools and information to help you identify and overcome problem gambling. 
The app has been designed to help those that are struggling with problem gambling by providing easy to access information and straightforward tools. Key features of the app are:

  • Self-assessment questionnaire
  • Text based live support
  • Mindfulness and self-help exercises
  • Crisis support information
  • Daily motivational quotes
  • Links to blocking software
  • Directory of organisations that can help
  • Access to online forums.