Gambling comes in many forms these days – lottery tickets, bingo, casino slot machines and card games, poker tournaments – and just because most gambling is legal does not mean it can’t have a serious, financially detrimental, effect on your life.
Gambling is not just going to the race track or the casino and playing the slot machines or games of chance (such as poker, blackjack or keno) or going to the race track to bet on what you think will be the winning horse. Our society is now inundated with other forms of gambling, including VLTs, internet sites for poker (most of them illegal in Canada), a huge number of lottery options and the ever-popular bingo, one of the original forms of gambling in our province.
Gambling can be fun. It can be enjoyable. It can be exciting. But it can also be financially-draining and life-changing. How do you tell if gambling has become a problem in your life? There are tell-tale signs that will indicate whether or not you’ve become a problem gambler. Take a quick glance at the list below. Do any of the warning signs listed sound like you?
Warnings signs for a gambling addiction
- Is the anticipation of gambling giving you a rush of excitement that is as strong as the gambling process itself?
- Are you going back, again and again, to try and “win back” the money you lost the previous time you played? (lottery players: take note!)
- Are you borrowing money from family or friends so you have money to gamble with?
- Are you withdrawing money from your bank account while at the gambling venue so you can continue gambling once you’ve lost your original cash?
- Are you taking cash advances from your credit cards (normally at a higher rate of interest than your credit card purchases) so you can keep gambling?
- Are you “on the hook” to the casino or a third-party for the funds you’ve lost?
- Have you had to sell personal items (jewellery, vehicle, etc) to get money to gamble with?
If you answered “yes” to two or more of the items above, you may have a gambling problem.
Worse yet, the fall-out from serious gambling can be almost as bad as the problem itself. Not only are there financial difficulties but it is often the cause of many a marriage breakdown. The partner responsible for the problem is often racked with guilt over not being able to properly support their family and the eventual havoc that ensues.
Scariest yet? Many spouses and children aren’t even aware of the extent of the gambling problem until it’s become extremely serious.
Health matters can also surface as a result of gambling pressures. Being under stress can raise blood pressure, bring on a stroke or heart attack and some doctors even go so far as to suggest a number of forms of cancer can be linked to extreme stress in individuals.
The stress comes from being in a bad situation and not knowing how to recover. From not knowing how to get help for themselves and get their family life back on track again.
Luckily, there IS help available. You just have to take a step at a time to find the right solution to this problem. A combination of financial counselling and talk therapy can often prove helpful.
If you have a gambling debt problem, please get help today. Do not hesitate to seek out the right resources to help you.