St Vincent's Hospital, FairviewSubstance Abuse Service

Gambling

Problem gambling can affect every aspect of a person's life - relationships, children, work and finances to name but a few. More often than not, a gambling problem can remain unrecognised for years and is sometimes called the "secret" or "hidden" addiction.

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People can engage in gambling in a number of different ways, such as -

  • Betting on sports events – horses / dogs / football / etc in a bookmakers
  • Online (Internet based) gaming – this is becoming more popular
  • Casino based gambling – card games, dice games, roulette, slot machines, etc
  • Stocks and Shares
  • Playing Bingo
  • Running private card /dice games
  • Playing the lotto and / or buying scratch cards

Whilst large numbers of people may engage in gambling, not everyone develops problems.

Men are generally at higher risk of developing problems and tend to favour betting and casino based gambling.
Women tend to have a lower risk of developing gambling problems and often favour bingo / scratch cards and slot machines.
Persons of either sex, with a history of problem gambling or other addictions in the family tend to have a higher risk of developing a problem themselves.
Some people can have other problems in addition to gambling such as alcohol dependence, and/or mental health problems.

Gambling problems are often more difficult to spot than problems related to alcohol or drugs because the person appears in full control of themselves and can give the impression to others that everything is fine. A person may have had a gambling problem for many years before it comes to light.

 

These are some things you may notice over time:

          1.   An intense interest in the results of sports etc on the TV
          2.   Mood swings which seem to come out of the blue – (often related to wins / losses)
          3.   Sometimes the gambling person is very generous and seems to have a lot of money to
                 spend or buy gifts with, other times they will not have as much
          4.   An increased level of secretiveness can be noticed – e.g. turning off the TV / computer
                quickly when someone comes in, not saying how much money they have, etc.
          5.   Claims of money being “stolen” or “lost” can be frequent, as can “I forgot to bring my
                money with me

          6.   Making excuses about not wanting to go places can be an indication of:
                         Avoiding spending money (to save it for gambling)
                         Avoiding meeting people they owe money to
                         Avoiding telling you they have no money
          7.   Chasing losses – where the person persists with gambling to try and ‘make up for
                previous losses
          8.   Getting loans or stealing money in order to gamble, ending up in debt.
  


Gamblers Anonymous is a voluntary organisation that holds meetings throughout the country for people who want to stop gambling.

This link will bring you to a new site with further information on gambling

You could also ask your doctor to refer you to specialist counselling services for further help and support