Prevention of Problem Gambling
March 13, 2009

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Problem gambling is like quicksand. It is very easy to step into it but difficult to come out of. In the first instance the gambler is not willing to acknowledge that he has a problem. He thinks he is having a run of bad luck that will be overcome by one last fling. When he realizes that he has a problem he is unwilling to seek assistance because of the stigma attached. And finally he goes for help too late making the rehabilitation all that more difficult. The objective therefore should be to be able to discern if you are heading towards problem gambling before you get there.

Fortunately online casinos provide a mechanism. They offer a list of questions that enable the player to assess whether he is drifting towards problem gambling. It would be advisable for players to go through those questions before engaging in online gambling so that they are familiar with the indicators. Thereafter they should take the self assessment test periodically, say every quarter. An indicative list of questions in the self assessment test is given below.

  • Is gambling a source of income for you?
  • Do you gamble to recover past losses?
  • Do you gamble more to ride your luck when you are winning?
  • Do you often end up consuming your entire bankroll?
  • Do you borrow money for gambling?
  • Do you liquidate savings or defer important expenses for gambling money?
  • Is gambling hampering your performance at work?
  • Do you gamble to avoid social and family responsibilities?
  • Does gambling lead to stress or guilt?
  • Does your family have issues with your gambling?
  • Are you known as a gambler in your social circle?

The more the number of questions to which the answer is yes the deeper in problem gambling the player is.

Most countries that have a significant gambling population also have government supported institutions to combat problem gambling. In the United States the premier organization is The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). The NCPG does not take a stand for or against legalized gambling. The objective of the NCPG is to increase public awareness of problem gambling, assist and treat problem gamblers and carry out research for understanding and preventing problem gambling. One of the key initiatives of the NCPG has been to create a single telephone contact to a nationwide network of help centers. The NCPG holds an annual problem gambling awareness week every March.

In the United Kingdom, GamCare is the organization working for problem gambling. GamCare provides advice, support and counseling for problem gambling. Specifically GamCare works to improve the understanding of the social impact of problem gambling, promote responsible gambling and counsel those with a gambling problem. The counselling is provided on a face to face basis, over telephone and now increasingly via the Internet. GamCare also assesses and certifies gambling operations that follow responsible gambling practices.

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