Gambling, at its core, is entertainment. The thrill of risking your hard-earned cash, the fun of the game, the anticipation of winning and finally, the euphoria of triumph. These are the key ingredients that keep us coming back to hit the casino table games or stay stuck to our screens to play online casino games and keep trying our luck at online slots.
Yet as with any entertaining pastime, there comes a point when the constant pursuit of the rush goes from harmless fun to a debilitating and often devastating problem. Gambling Disorder, as it is called, is real and can have catastrophic effects on your psychological, social and financial wellbeing.
If you find that you need to risk big amounts of money to sustain the thrill, that gambling constantly occupies your thoughts, or you often lie to cover up how much time you spend gambling, you may be developing Gambling Disorder. This requires intervention and you should seek assistance.
However, if you haven’t reached that point but fear you may get there, here are 10 tips to keep you gambling responsibly.
1. It’s entertainment, not a job
This may seem like common sense, but how often do we forget reality in pursuit of fantasy? The simple truth is that, on average, you will lose more than you win if you play with the sole intention of trying to outsmart the casino. What you spend while playing slots online or live dealer casino games gives you thrills and excitement. Gambling is entertainment.
2. Set a budget
Continuing from the entertainment theme, you wouldn’t spend your rent money on movie tickets and rollercoasters, would you? The same applies to gambling. Think of it in the same way you would a concert ticket or a visit to a resort. Set a spend limit, enjoy the fun and remind yourself that it was a good romp for the night. And if you win, it’s a bonus.
3. Set a time limit
How often have you sat down at the slots or a blackjack table and only realized you’ve been at it for hours when your belly reminds you that you’ve missed a meal or two? Be mindful of time when you play casino games so that you don’t lose track and end up overspending or putting other responsibilities in jeopardy. Use alarms and timers on your phone to remind you when you’ve reached your time limit.
4. Don’t chase losses
Walking away from a night of gambling can be difficult when you’ve hit a losing streak. We often convince ourselves that we can make back our losses if we just persevere. This is not true. If you are a regular gambler, then try to remember that there will be other opportunities to win. It need not be right now. Cut your losses once you’ve reached your budget and come back again refreshed and ready when you can afford to again.
5. Don’t gamble when upset
This one is similar to the old adage, “don’t shop on an empty stomach.” We are most vulnerable when we are depressed or sad and less likely to adhere to the budgets and time limits as we try to distract ourselves from difficult emotions. Gambling, unlike other pastimes such as running or binge-watching series, can make things much worse financially, so it’s best to avoid it when you’re feeling down.
6. Avoid “gambler’s fallacy”
Here’s one of the most common pitfalls for any gambler. Gambler’s fallacy simply refers to the idea that there is a pattern to winning in games of chance like roulette. In reality, every spin is independent of all other spins and there is no mathematical or statistical pattern that you can rely on to predict a win. There is a very good reason it is called a game of chance and not probability.
7. Avoid going full tilt
Going full tilt is primarily associated with poker and refers to players who abandon logic and strategy in deference to a purely emotional response. This is usually triggered by a losing streak or a wily opponent who needles you into a tilt as a tactic. Emotional players at any game are operating sub-optimally and are easier to beat, both by opponents and the house. Keep those emotions in check to avoid making bad decisions.
8. Don’t drink or drug and then gamble
Alcohol and drugs are active disinhibitors and lead to impaired judgment in any situation. It is far more dangerous when handling large sums of money that are earmarked for basic expenses and necessities. We are far more likely to override limits set while we were sober and venture into irresponsible territory under the influence of recreational substances.
9. Find other pastimes as well
If you find that gambling occupies a hundred percent of your leisure time, then you might be developing an unhealthy dependence on it. Balance your leisure time with other healthy pursuits to avoid falling into addiction. Do something that can match the rush you get from sitting at the tables or tapping away at the slots. Preferably something physical that will also get the circulation going or possibly more mindful pursuits like meditation or yoga to help manage difficult feelings.
10. Leave your bank cards out of reach
This one is a no-brainer. If you find it difficult to resist the temptation of chasing losses or caving in to your cognitive biases like gamblers’ fallacy, then best to regulate your expenditure by limiting access to your bank accounts. This includes leaving your cards out of reach and putting limits on your banking apps and other banking interfaces.
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