Sports betting is inherently risky and not for everyone. Inevitably, there will be gains and losses associated with sports betting, and any preparation or research you do will mean nothing if hit with a streak of bad luck. As with any gambling activity, the highs will be high but the lows will be low, and these lows must be dealt with.
Do you or someone you know have a gambling problem?
Many people bet as a hobby or as a career without running into any issues. For most people, gambling is a fun and harmless activity, or even a systematic way to generate income.
Many others, however, find that the excitement and pleasure they get from gambling makes it hard to know when to stop. They develop an unhealthy obsession with gambling that comes with serious consequences. They find they are often betting more than they should, and this can lead to ruined relationships, problems at work, and financial disaster.
All of the above are signs of a pathological gambler. If you’re a pathological gambler, you cannot control the impulse to gamble, even when it may have negative consequences for you or your loved ones. You may bet more than you can afford to lose, and run up large debts.
A pathological gambler is a person whose gambling has caused growing and continuing problems in any aspect of their life. Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as a ‘hidden illness’ because it does not carry obvious physical symptoms. However, some of the warning signs include:
- Being increasingly secretive about your gambling – you might gamble in secret or lie about how much you gamble as you feel that others will not understand.
- Worried family and friends – if family and friends are worried, it’s usually for good reason. It’s not too late to make a change and it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help.
- Fantasies of a big win to make up for your losses – you regularly think about your next ‘big win’ and believe you are unfairly on a losing streak and your luck will turn around soon.
- Gamble even when you don’t have money – you gamble until you’ve spent your final dollar, and begin to rack up debt to fuel your gambling addiction. You may feel compelled to borrow, sell, or even steal for gambling money.
The biggest step to overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. Suffering from a gambling problem is nothing to be ashamed of. It takes tremendous strength and courage to recognize that you have a problem and begin to rebuild your life.
If you think you’re showing signs of being or becoming a problem/pathological gambler, you should speak to a doctor or a support group as soon as possible. They can help you get the help you need. Another good idea is to contact your local chapter of Gamblers Anonymous. Check their web page to find the closest chapter to you: Gamblers Anonymous.
National Council on Problem Gaming (NCPG)
National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG)
Self exclusion is a way to take a break from gambling as you will ban yourself from casinos, gaming properties, and online gaming apps. Self-exclusion programs are run on a state-by-state basis – check your state government’s website for more details.
The legal age for gambling in most states is 21, though it is 18 in a few states.