“Problem gambling, or ludomania, is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop.” (Source: wikipedia.org)
According to DSM-IV, pathological gambling is now defined as separate from a manic episode. Only when the gambling occurs independent of other impulsive, mood, or thought disorders is it considered its own diagnosis.
In order to be diagnosed, an individual must have at least five of the following symptoms:
- Preoccupation. The subject has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences, whether past, future, or fantasy.
- Tolerance. As with drug tolerance, the subject requires larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same “rush”.
- Withdrawal. Restlessness or irritability associated with attempts to cease or reduce gambling.
- Escape. The subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems.
- Chasing. The subject tries to win back gambling losses with more gambling.
- Lying. The subject tries to hide the extent of his or her gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.
- Loss of control. The person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling.
- Illegal acts. The person has broken the law in order to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses. This may include acts of theft, embezzlement, fraud, or forgery.
- Risked significant relationship. The person gambles despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.
- Bailout. The person turns to family, friends, or another third party for financial assistance as a result of gambling.
Tips on How to Gamble Responsibly
Understand the game
This may seem like a very obvious rule, but you would be surprised at how many people place bets on games they don’t fully understand. This rule may apply more to certain games (i.e. Roulette) than other games (i.e. Slots), but generally speaking, it is more advantageous for a player to fully understand the rules of a game before betting on it.
Budget your money
Place a limit on the money that you can afford to gamble with and lose. Never exceed that amount or gamble with money that you can’t afford to lose. Leaving your ATM cards and credit cards at home may be a good way to ensure that you won’t be tempted to exceed your budget limit.
Never borrow money to gamble
To fall into the habit of gambling with borrowed money is one of the most serious mistakes any person can make. Not only can one run the risk of falling heavily into debt and perhaps having to sell one’s possessions to payback the borrowed money, but the risk of alienating friends and family members, or infuriating the “money lenders” should be enough reason to avoid this practice at all costs.
Avoid betting all your money in one go. Remember, the objective is to have fun and enjoy yourself. If your gambling budget is $50, then place bets of $1 or $2 instead of betting the entire $50 on one single bet, losing it and walking away empty handed. As long as the entire sum of money is not lost in one single bet, the player has a chance to win.
Know when to quit
Always quit while you’re ahead. The best time to quit is when you are ahead of the casino. Many players make the mistake of thinking that their streak of luck will last forever and continue to gamble until they eventually lose it all. This is mainly the result of overconfidence and greed.
“Chasing a loss” is a term used to describe the act of trying to win back money that was lost during a previous bet. The problem with this is that the player stands to lose even more money. In this case, it is better to just accept the loss and quit or continue playing for the sole purpose of just having fun.
Never gamble when you are angry or depressed. Emotional states such as anger and depression usually cloud a person’s judgment and impair his/her ability to play the games properly. A person who is experiencing an intense emotional state usually lacks the ability to think as clearly as someone who is not.
Don’t gamble alone
In some way, it is better to visit a casino with friends or family members if you are planning on gambling. Friends and family members will usually tell you if you are spending too much, drinking too much or not playing properly. In the very least, it is in everyone’s best interest to have a sober person in the group who can safely drive everyone home.
Take frequent breaks
As in any other activity be it reading, writing or playing computer games, one should always take frequent breaks to feel refreshed and alert. Although this may not apply to a person who places a few bets before leaving the casino floor, it does apply to gambler who intends on spending a considerable amount of time betting in a casino.
Gambling should be viewed as a fun and exciting recreational activity as opposed to a means of making money. Even though most of us have heard of, or read about the occasional gambler who won the big jackpot that changed his/her life, this is usually not the case for the majority of players. Let’s face it. The glitz and glamour of casinos were not built on the good fortune of winners. Therefore always play for fun and never for the sole purpose of making money.
Never drink and gamble. Not only can alcohol impair one’s judgement, but it can also inflate one’s sense of self confidence to the point where the person gambles away money which he/she would never have gambled if he/she was sober. This is one of the main reasons as to why some casinos offer free alcohol to their players.
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