Do you gamble? According to the results of research published in March of this year by the Gambling Commission, during 2016 almost half of us (48%) did in the previous four weeks. This figure includes around 15% who only gambled on the National Lottery.
You may not be surprised that 17% of gamblers choose the convenience of gambling on-line (97% of on line gamblers do so at home). The proportion of female gamblers – just under a half – is possibly more surprising as you may think it is mainly men that gamble. If you do gamble, does it cause you problems? This is not always an easy question to answer honestly because addiction has a way of hiding the truth from its victims.
In the year ending 31 March 2017, Citizens Advice Waverley helped people in the borough with 13,000 problems. The top five categories included debt (17%) and relationships (7%). A proportion of these will undoubtedly have been due to problems with gambling although it is not possible to ascertain how many. Although Citizens Advice can directly provide help and information regarding a wide range of issues – including the consequences of gambling addiction – overcoming the addiction itself is not one of them.
However help is at hand. There are a number of resources available on the Internet, for example http://gamblingaddiction.org.uk/. This debunks a number of myths that have grown up around gambling addiction, and may help some addicts to deny their addiction. For example:
- You have to gamble everyday to be a gambling addict: If the gambler has got into debt or missed time at work it does not matter how frequently he or she gambles, the gambling has still caused a problem,
- Gambling is not a problem if the gambler can afford to gamble: Even the wealthiest gamblers have their limits and the lengths that addicts will go to hide their addiction can cause strains on family relationships and friendships
- ‘I’m bound to win because I’ve had such a long losing streak’: Have you ever met a poor bookie? In the vast majority of cases the odds are stacked against gamblers.
- Compulsive gambling only affects irresponsible people: Anyone can get hooked on gambling. Some of the most successful people in the world have suffered from gambling addictions.
- It is easy to spot compulsive gamblers: Although this may sometimes be true, addicts can be very clever when it comes to concealing the effects of their gambling A gambling addiction can often come as a huge surprise to then addict’s friends and family. What starts out as a casual habit can become a consuming addiction and even the most responsible people can quickly become addicted. Many people assume they could just give up gambling at any time. However, in reality, when they actually try to give up they find it extremely difficult and continue to gamble.
If you have a problem and require help from Citizens Advice, which could involve information and advice on Debt, Benefits, Work, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare you can:
- call 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package.
- visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ to access our comprehensive range of information and advice,
- or follow us on Twitter @ Waverley CAB