Responsible Gambling

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Brian Christopher in a lucky shirt

A player asks a very important question:

“What is the difference between a gambling addict and all these gambling channels. Are you all compulsive gamblers? Or can you stop at any given moment? Can you all stop gambling for a month? What do you tell viewers who have a gambling problem?”

Jerry W.

I will not speak for others, but I do promise to be as open and honest as possible and to provide as much education as I can. I am not an expert and so have researched and provided links below.

The Mayo Clinic classifies compulsive gambling (or gambling disorder) as:

the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling
means that you’re willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value. It can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction.

Mayo Clinic

According to them, Symptoms include:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more gambling money
  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
  • Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
  • Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression.
  • Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses)
  • Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling
  • Jeopardizing or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling
  • Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money
  • Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away

Personally, I do not have an addiction. I enjoy gambling responsibly and have learned the limits I need to set for myself over time. That wasn’t always the case however. When I was younger, I would sometimes gamble too much and I found myself gambling to make back the money I lost. That is a sure way to come away a loser every time, because when you win, you feel invincible and keep gambling…until it’s all gone. A jackpot is never big enough.  

Some tricks I personally use to ensure it does not become a problem and that I recommend:

  • Be open and honest with your partner and yourself about your wins and losses (I have a separate checking account for my gambling, as well as a separate wallet for my trips!). Don’t try and convince people you always win. You don’t. 
  • Leave your debit and credit cards at home and only bring cash
  • Arrive at the casino with the expectation to lose (entertain yourself with) all of the cash you bring.
  • Set an entertainment budget and don’t set unrealistic expectations of winning jackpots. Understand that casinos operate to take your money, not provide it.
  • Use a Winners Bank to ensure going home with some of the winnings. It’s a little safe that fits in your pocket so that after a big win, you can store money in it that is not accessible until you return home to open it with a key. (For example, if I put $100 in a machine and cash out at $200, I will put $100 of that in the bank!)
  • Use envelopes (I’ve used a wallet with 5 separate cash areas!) to separate my cash for different times or days of a trip. It also helps to budget in everyday life!
  • Bring a friend who you can trust to keep you accountable

Casinos should be used as a form of entertainment, a place to hang out with friends or to just get away and have some excitement. It is NOT a place to go and get rich or to help you pay the bills. If the fun stops, so should you. My favorite saying is from the Ontario Lottery Gaming: Know your Limit, Play within It.

For more information or if you think you may have a problem, I encourage you to reach out to friends and family and to visit these suggested places as outlined on HelpGuide.org :

  • The National Council on Problem Gambling Helpline – Offers a confidential, 24-hour helpline for problem gamblers or their family members in the U.S. Call 1-800-522-4700. (NCPG)
  • Gamblers Anonymous – Twelve-step Gamblers Anonymous program, an international support network of meetings to assist people who have a gambling problem. Gam-Anon for the problem gambler’s spouse, family members, or close friends. (Gamblers Anonymous)
  • Gamcare – Offers support, information, and advice for those with a gambling problem in the UK. Call the helpline 0845 6000 133. (Gamcare)
  • Gambling Help Online – Provides 24-hour helpline in Australia for counseling, information, and referrals. Call 1800 858 858. (Gambling Help Online)
  • Canadian Resources for Those Affected by Problem Gambling – Find help and information on problem gambling in your area of Canada. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
  • What Is Problem Gambling? – Learn about the gambling continuum and the key differences between recreational gambling and problem gambling. (British Columbia Responsible & Problem Gambling Program)
  • Freedom from Problem Gambling (PDF)   – Self-help workbook for compulsive gamblers, with tips on how to avoid relapse and fight gambling urges. (UCLA Gambling Studies Program and California Department of Public Health)
  • Choosing a Treatment Facility – Learn what treatments are appropriate for problem gambling and what questions you should ask when look at facilities. (National Council on Problem Gambling)
  • Problem Gamblers and their Finances (PDF) – In-depth guide for treatment professionals on how to help a problem gambler cope with financial problems and pressures. (National Endowment for Financial Education)
  • Help for Family, Friends, Employers, and Co-Workers – Learn how gambling addiction affects family and friends and what you can do to address the problem. (Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services)
  • Personal Financial Strategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers (PDF) – Designed to help families deal with personal financial issues due to a loved one’s problem gambling. (National Council on Problem Gambling)

Line it up,


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