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SOS, I am addicted to gambling - what to do?


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Addicted to gambling…

I always wondered why that delicate moment caused such a storm of spontaneous emotions every time it’s mentioned! Why makes us blush for a second or falling into a sudden fit of rage? Do we feel powerless when facing the word “addicted” or it’s just anger to ourselves and even to the whole world? Where exactly goes the thin line between vice and entertainment? Who and what determines this line? Have I crossed it already? Am I addicted to gambling?

So many difficult and complex issues with even more difficult and delicate answers! The human psyche is a vast ocean of thoughts, feelings, decisions and emotions, and no matter how strange and inexplicable it seems to us sometimes, in the end, it all comes down to a very simple and pragmatic moments and events of our lives! And since the problem gambling or addiction to gambling if we have to be more precise, is explained mainly by the presence of certain psychological problems, I will try to define those simple events that led to this negative development. And what is most important, I will speak and share from my own point of view! The point of view of someone, who has struggled and managed to overcome this sort of problem!

In my opinion he most important, but the most difficult part of identifying the problem, called "gambling addiction" is related to the lack of explicit understanding, understatement or even complete denial of the facts of life, and several truths about the world of online gambling! Without being fully aware of them and without being realized in a sufficiently large extent, each of us – the ordinary gamblers, is threatened to face the problem of addiction sooner or later. Unfortunately, I believe that a little is said about that kind of problems, quite often they are described with just generalities without anyone trying to call things with their real names. Well, thanks to the opportunity given to me by AskGamblers.com, I would afford myself to share with you all the real facts, no matter how unpleasant and even ugly they might be!

I sincerely beg you to remove the mask of a cool and unruffled by anyone and anything man, and to read the following lines and pages with a completely open soul! It is of great importance to try to understand and feel the things with your heart - honestly and frankly!

The first truth – It is vital to understand that gambling is not only an entertainment or a thrill, or joyful emotion or even a sudden rush of adrenaline! The problem gambling could be completely devastating! It could have smashing consequences for you, your family, your career, your friends... It could destroy you mentally, morally and unfortunately, sometimes even physically! Yes, I know it sounds very scary, but believe me, the examples are all around us, even within us. For me, gambling could be compared with one of those huge Bengal tigers in the circus - it is unbelievable to see how this mighty, deadly beast obey your commands and it’s a fun, but somewhere deep inside us, something tells us that anything might go damn wrong in just a hundredth of a second! Gambling is a game, but this game is played with money! And when money is involved, I'm afraid that none of us can afford to underestimate the situation. Our own demons could be easily and imperceptibly released out of control and then we will wonder how to fix it, if not too late already! So do not ever afford yourself thinking that gambling is just a game, you know, a way to have some fun... Do not be naive and always try to consider your possibilities and psychical strength very well, otherwise you risk to fall into the trap of dependency, the escape from which is difficult, long and painful, not to mention that it is often impossible! A self-deception, as well as the incomplete understanding of what you're doing, will definitely bring you a lot more trouble than good, so look soberly and objectively upon your gambling habits!

The second truth - Addiction could come very fast, in most cases, even imperceptibly, and while you realize what is going on it's often too late already! The damage is done, you lost a lot of money, the desire for revenge and regain of these losses is compelling and here you are - already at the spiral of addiction. You gamble more, spend more, can’t even wait to regain losses, to return to the winning way, so you bet again, lose again... And this way leads only down and down, until one day realize you are at the bottom! Without money, because you blew your last savings! Without family, because all of them were awfully tired of listening to your constant lies and excuses! Without friends, because you have betrayed their trust too many times! Without a job, because your employer is tired of being haunted by banks and lenders you owe money!

The third truth - The worst in all types of addiction is that those who suffer from them are completely denying to the last possible moment! And when that time comes, however, unfortunately it is often too late, irreparable damage is already done - on the addict himself, on his family, his relatives, his social status, career! His whole life is in danger - psychologically, morally, mentally, in some cases even physically!
The most difficult moment in the life of an addict, no matter whether we talk about addiction to alcohol, *****, gambling or drugs, is to stand face to face with the ugly truth and be honest with himself! No matter how long we run, no matter how deep we try to hide, no matter what we try to do, sooner or later the moment of truth will come, when a man should just stop for a sec and ask himself the simple question – “Am I addicted?”. So much depends on the answer that it is often with dramatic consequences for both our life and for the closest around us!

Well, now as you know how dangerous gambling can be for you and your loved ones, it is time to answer the question, "What about me? What if I’m already addicted?”. The answer is quite complex sometimes, because it may contains many small and not so seemingly important details, which actually could be of significant importance in determining the degree of dependence!

How do I know if I'm addicted?

According to the latest classification of the American Psychiatric Association, to designate a person as a gaming addict, it must meet at least four of the following criteria:

  • The subject has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences, whether past, future, or fantasy.
  • As with drug tolerance, the subject requires larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same "rush".
  • Restlessness or irritability associated with attempts to cease or reduce gambling.
  • The subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems.
  • The subject tries to win back gambling losses with more gambling.
  • The subject tries to hide the extent of his or her gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.
  • The person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling.
  • 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.
  • The person gambles despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.
  • The person turns to family, friends, or another third party for financial assistance as a result of gambling.

If you apply to one or two of these signs, than you are considered as “risk” gambler, if apply to 3 or 4, than you are a “problem” gambler and if apply to 5 or more – a “pathological” gambler. But no matter how many criteria you apply to, even if it’s only one better take immediate measures!

How the gambling addiction is treated?

Although it is relatively difficult, the problem gambling is a treatable disease. There are different types of psychotherapeutic treatment - psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, support groups, family therapy when necessary. For many people, a combination of approaches is most effective.

  • Psychodynamic therapy - this therapy is very useful for people who want to escape from problems or are depressed and oppressed. It works with everything a man could possibly hide even from himself - unconscious psychological problems, conflicts that lead to the activation of problem gambling behavior.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is helpful in learning to recognize those of your beliefs and distorted thinking associated with money and your superstitions of a control over the result of the so called "games of fortune". It can help you in building and practicing ways to relax and avoid stimuli associated with gambling.
  • Family therapy can work with your relationships in the family, which to facilitate and maintain your problem. The aim is to understand the roles of other members in supporting problem using strategies that "do not work" for anyone, such as concealing problem, controlling your behavior, payment of debts, allying with you in gaming, making compromises on behalf of your family.
  • Support groups – Gamblers Anonymous are based on 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The meaning of these groups is to become aware of the seriousness of this problem and the desire of efforts to stop gambling. To allow you in these groups, you need to have a desire to go there in the first place and to do it regularly. The aim is to realize what kind of damage in your life has caused gambling and find a "sponsor" (usually a person of the same *****, but not required) to help you in this kind of program. The group Gamblers Anonymous expect from people, who stop their problem behavior associated with betting, to know that from now on they won’t be able to play socially acceptable and just for fun, just as the Alcoholics Anonymous can not drink socially acceptable within the standard use of alcohol.

Important! - Very often, people who are addicted to gambling, have other addictions as well - of psychoactive substances or alcohol. Some gambling addicts might have supporting psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia and even suicide attempts. If you also feel or think this way – please, talk to a psychiatrist as soon as possible, most likely you need from a medical therapy.

How can I prevent myself from problem gambling?

Prevention of this dependence is much more difficult because it is not possible to predict when a person will develop the disorder, practicing some sort of gambling. But if you start to feel that there are problems associated with this behavior, you should immediately seek for assistance from a professional (psychologist, psychiatrist) or a specialized program. This can be a preventive measure to the development of a more serious condition that can affect many areas of a gambler’s life, and to protect you from legal troubles and serious financial losses.

Very often people who have gambling problems are using gambling as an opportunity to escape from other problems in their lives, such as loneliness, boredom, anxiety, home troubles, troubles at work… It is crucial to understand the exact role, which gambling is playing in your life in order to beat the problem. But no matter what type of advices and measures you will find over the Internet to cope with problem gambling, in my opinion there is only one way – to stop gambling at all! Or at least for a period, during which you will gather strength and confidence to put all kind of issues, concerning playing in casinos into a full control. There is no shortcut, you have to fight and it will definitely be a pain, but it’s worth. Here follows some steps, which I have gathered across some of the biggest online portals, dedicated to struggle with problem gambling, most of which worked for me and my friends perfectly over the years.

  • Be honest with your family and share the whole truth. You will be surprised how relieve a man could feel, once the awful burden of hiding your problems is released! Ask them for a help, make them understand the problem, because no one else could provide you with a better support than your own people!
  • Make it impossible to reach your money for a certain period of time - let’s say at least a month or two. Ask someone of your closest people to take care of your financial matters and not to let you touch them in any circumstances.
  • Self-exclude from any casinos you are a member of. It is not necessary to ask for a permanent exclusion at all costs, but rather choose some cooling period of 3 or 6 months. If that time is not enough to overwhelm your gambling problems, I’m afraid you will never manage to do it, so better look for a permanent decision of that matter.
  • Start your own calendar and mark each day you don’t gamble. At this way you will have a constant visual proof in front of your eyes that you are doing great.
  • Reward yourself after a period free of gambling and spend some of the money you saved for yourself. Buy something you wanted to have from a long time, this will make you feel much better and give your additional strength to finish the battle with the temptation.
  • Try to be surrounded always by lots of people, especially with your family members. Nothing could be as refreshing as the good old family habits.
  • Return to your favorite hobbies, before the gambling period. If any of these hobbies involves other people, try to choose people, who are not gamblers.
  • Be positive and with each goal you achieve and your confidence and self-esteem will grow.
  • If you were a long time gambler don’t expect your life will change immediately – it will take months, sometimes even years, but if you succeed, it’s definitely worth the struggle.
  • And always remember - YOU CAN OVERCOME THE GAMBLING ADDICTION! It’s all a matter of explicit self discipline and a great will along with a helping hand from a friend! YOU CAN DO IT!

Useful links for additional help:








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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Blue! :) It was really the hardest one to write so far, but it's worth all the efforts! It was really quite surprising to see so few articles, dedicated to this subject, written by real gamblers! It seems that we don't like to talk on that matter too much, you know! ;)

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Wow, Valdes! That guide makes my skin crawls - it sounds very very very scary indeed, but also very very very true! That's the nature of gambling, I am afraid. As soon as you start the fun, and you already have to take care of so many things - lost of money, addiction, etc! :( Thanks for the wonderful article, I think it would be of great use for every gambler here. :good:

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Your article sounds pretty familiar to me, do you know that Valdes? A few years ago, I was experiencing some problems with gambling and to fight them was one of the hardest things to do in my entire life. Nevertheless, the only way for me to cope with that was to quit gambling in full for almost one year. That time, free of gambling gave me the self-confidence that I can actually control my behaviour while playing and now, a few years after it, I can proudly claim for gambling safely and free of troubles. For all who have similar problems, remember that the key word is only one - control. Everything in gambling is a matter of self control, and once you lost that control then it is time to quit immediately and see why have lost it!

Valdes, congratulations for the thread, you have done perfect job. :good:

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I am a pit boss in a casino. I have been in the business since the 1960's. Let me add to this thread, and pay attention because you won't hear it from anyone in your casino.


Gambling is supposed to be fun, a diversion. It isn't.


It is a thriving business that is based on your ego, thinking that you can outsmart pure mathematics. You can't.


If you want to play a little for fun, that's great, but if you let us control you, we will.  Your budget should never exceed 3% of your annual income, because statistics say that is how much recreational money you have, You won't be able to stop if you go over that. I hate to be impolite, but when you go over that, we own you. If you come back to our casino to win back your losses, we own you. If you hide money to play with, we own you. If you run to the ATM during your play, you are totally out of control. We own you.


Do you like to hear that?


Today a player that has lost 2 million dollars in my casino told me he is a different player than all the others. He thinks he is, but he isn't. He is just another loser.

Casino games are not based on luck. There is a pure set of mathematics in the way they are set up and even when you do catch a lucky streak, we know it will end. We can wait, because we know that you will bring all the money back, plus more.


Re-read the addiction message and then read it one more time. There are plenty of people willing to support our business, but you don't have to be one. If you have a gambling problem, get help.

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Hi bossman :)


This is very striking story! Appreciated is your decision to share it with us!


I am more than curious to find out what made you do that, especially considering you're "on the other side", working for casino, not for the players?? 

Sorry to ask, but it's just a bit strange for me to read this from the boss of the casino, don't mind :) Sounds like a warning and it certainly don't go in your favor!



PS. Here's my contribution for this thread! Here's the web address of the organisation helping gambling problems (UK) - http://www.cnwl.nhs.uk/cnwl-national-problem-gambling-clinic/

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Casinos are for entertainment. We are not that much removed from Disney World when you consider that. Everyone wants to have a good time, and we are there for that purpose. Our games are the rides. They are not rigged, but carefully set up so that we have an advantage. We are very heavily scrutinized,regulated, and taxed, but we are a "for profit" enterprise. I enjoy it when new people come to my establishment and have a good time. I frequently say that when you go to a movie, you pay for your ticket and you buy your popcorn. Come see us. Have fun. Enjoy the popcorn.

To go along with this thread, we know that there are people that cannot handle gambling, that simply expect everything to go THEIR way, regardless of the fact that all of our games are mathematically in our favor. Every Casino in the USA subscribes to RESPONSIBLE GAMING. We don't need to take advantage of anyone because they do it themselves. Last week, as I stood in the middle of the Casino, surrounded by 30 blackjack tables, a guest walked up to me and asked where he could find the blackjack tables. He was about to go bet his own money (I assume) on a game that he didn't even know what it looked like.

We encourage our guests to maintain control but for some folks it's like an ego contest that somehow they think that they are going to teach us some kind of a lesson. Our games have been fine tuned for decades. We have a one to five percent advantage on every hand on every game, so if you play 100 hands, we have a mathematical advantage that can reach 100 to 500%. There is no personal vendetta here, just a business. We are not challenging anyone. We just make a life diversion available, like going to stock car races. Many people cannot overcome that, and want to get at us. If that is their need, then we will accomodate them, but at their own peril.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Great topic! :)

Like most who play in my country, I started gambling when I was about 8-10 years old, and even legal. In that time our state monopoly did not put any agelimits to all those slotmachines what are in every shop, gasstation etc... Then agelimit was 15 and now 18, but it is impossible for shopworkers to always control if kids want to play. 

Yes, we have strong state monopoly about gambling and I will later write that more, and they keep that monopoly for "protecting people" of gambling but whole country is full of slotmachines. Only Åland has expectations, because they are area with strong authonomy so no monopoly there and they have licence for PAF. 

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A really nice post from Bossman. I would like to add some facts that are probably not new for the most people here, but maybe it is useful for some of you.


Forgive me if this is posted in the wrong section and feel free to move/delete it.


Casinos are attractive because of the relatively small house edges, which can result in a big long winning streak. In most games you have a decent chance of winning, but the chance of losing is simply bigger.

People who think they can beat a casino ór think there is a system to beat the games are very wrong, indeed.

Casinos must love the idea many people are convinced there is a system to beat the casino, because it is just NOT possible.

Simply because the fact the casino has a mathematical edge on every player over the long run in every single game. Only thing you can do as a player is play smart and make the best bets possible to cut the house edge to a minimum.


On a roulette wheel you get paid 35 times your bet, while there are 37 numbers, (on an European roulette wheel) which gives the house an edge of 2.70% at the long run.

On all bets on the roulette you play against this edge. Resulting in having a fair chance to go on a long lucky streak, but in the end you will pay them off, if you can´t control yourself. The worst bet you can make is a five number bet on an american wheel, where you give the house an edge of over 7%


Slots are totally random (and not programmed like many people may think) where the edge of the casino is in the paytable. Hot or cold slots don´t exist. You choose a number from the RNG the moment you push the spin-button. A slot is not programmed to pay out an exactly %%. (I am talking about casino slots, not the arcade slots which you can find in different bars, gas stations etc.).

It will simply reach his expected house edge because of the probability you will hit a price compared to the paytable programmed in the slot. Slots are one of the worst bets you can make in a casino. The edge isn´t that bad, but since you can spin the reels hundreds of times an hour, means you make hundreds of -EV bets an hour, which is very dangerous for your wallet. Myself I like slots the most of all, and you can win huge prices, but I hate to say it, they are the worst bets you can make in a casino. The nice thing about them is you can hit really big at them, and if you just play what your budget allows, they can make you very happy sometimes :)


Video Poker is also random. The machine doesn´t ¨choose¨ the cards because it has to payout ór swallow more money because it is at some point in his cyclus. Also here it is truly random and the machine will not cheat you by giving predetermined cards. The edge here is also in the paytable (so make sure to find the one with the best paytable to reduce your expected loses at the long run). Still I think Video Poker is one of the best bets you can make in a casino. If you play Jacks or better with a 9/6 payout table with the perfect strategy, you can cut down the edge to a very minimum even less then 1%.

Do it right, take care you get as many comps as possible from the casino and you can almost play for free. There even exist Video Poker slots which have a return of 100%. These are still profitable for the casinos since very few people know how to play the optimal strategy.


Same goes for Blackjack. The advantage of the casino is because a player has to decide first. If both player and bank bust, bank wins. Other facts also in- or decrease the casinos edge. If the dealer has to hit on a soft 17 (A6), the edge of the casino increases. Also the payout if you hit a Blackjack can be different from table to table. So find a table where a Blackjack pays 3:2, stands on a soft 17 ánd never buy insurance. This in combination with the perfect playing strategy will cut down the house edge to a minimum, and depending on the rules of the game, it can be less then 1%. If you have the ability to count cards ánd the ability to not get caught on counting cards (it´s not illegal but a casino can refuse you whenever they want) you cán have an edge. But also on the long run and expect a lot of up- and downswings.


So indeed, casinos are made this way they always will have an edge on you, so you will lose on the long term, but if you really need to play, try to play smart, study a lot and it can be much more fun and your money will last longer. And ofcourse you always have a chance to hit some big *ss jackpot, which can let you play for free the coming years if you stick to your strategy.


So, if you are addicted and need to play regularly, at least try to study and try to gather as much information possible. Make it like a sport and search for the best bets and play according to your budget. Your cash will last much longer and if you are well informed about the games, you will think twice before you make ridiculous bets. You will find back the fun in the game and will be able to play with a proper bankrollmanagement.


If you can just miss the money just play whatever you like and accept the fact you will have to pay for your entertainment on the long run, with always the chance to win BIG!


My 2 cents :)

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:) you may do that.


It was meant as a reaction on Bossman. Motivated me to write a little bit about my knowledge of casino games. Gathering more knowledge about the games helped me a lot to reduce losses ánd to control my gambling habits.


If you would like, please move it to the right section and I can modify the post a little bit to let it fit in whereever you place it.

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