Online gambling is an increasingly popular form of recreation and entertainment that allows individuals to place bets or wagers on a variety of different games and events. While the industry is lucrative, it can also be addictive and result in serious harm. If you suspect that you or someone you know has a problem with online gambling, there are several things you can do to help them get treatment and get back on track.
The most common online gambling activity is placing a bet or wager on an event, such as a game of chance, horse race or sporting match. This can be done via a computer or mobile phone. Gambling websites often provide players with a variety of different options to choose from, including casino games, sports betting and lotteries. These platforms are accessible around the clock and allow users to gamble at their convenience, no matter where they are.
In addition, many gambling websites offer free play offers that attract customers and encourage them to continue their playing. These incentives may contribute to the maintenance of gambling behaviour, although research is needed to understand the role of these factors in online gambling.
Some participants described how the ease of access to online gambling has led to harmful gambling patterns, such as increased frequency and reckless or uncontrolled gambling. In particular, one non-treatment seeker reported that his online gambling became a “rolling-up” experience that escalated losses and caused financial stress.
Another factor contributing to harmful gambling patterns is the isolated nature of online gaming. Gambling sites are available on mobile devices and personal computers, which make it easy for people to gamble while at work or commuting. This can lead to the blurring of home and working life and makes it easier for a person with a gambling problem to hide how much they gamble from family members and friends.
Other harms associated with online gambling include social withdrawal and the impact on mental health. For example, some people experience anxiety and depression as a result of online gambling, and the American Psychiatric Association has included gambling disorder in its list of mental health disorders alongside other conditions such as alcohol and substance misuse.
The best way to help a loved one overcome an addiction to online gambling is by talking with them in a supportive and non-judgemental manner and encouraging them to seek professional treatment. This will give them the best possible chance of recovering from their addiction and living a happy and fulfilling life again. However, if they decide not to recover, you must respect their decision and accept that they will not take your advice. If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from an online gambling addiction, GamCare’s online assessment tool can help you determine if there is a problem. This tool asks a series of questions about your gambling habits and gives you a personalised report and advise on what your next steps might be.