How dangerous is online gambling?

It’s just an hour or two playing online slots a few nights a week. Harmless fun, right? Playing responsibly online for occasional entertainment is one thing, but it can quickly turn into a serious addiction for some people with serious consequences. Online gaming sites have been extremely accessible for people to gamble.

 

You no longer need to visit a traditional casino to gamble. Players are able to log on online from anywhere in the world. We have also seen rapid growth in online casinos over the past few years as the industry presents a relatively low barrier to entry.

 

There is no need for physical slot machines, table games, staff, and premises keeping the costs of setting up an online casino to the minimum. Online casinos are still able to offer the same, and in some cases better, gaming opportunities to players as traditional casinos would offer all in the comfort of their own home. From American Roulette, Blackjack, and Baccarat to online
slots and video poker, online casinos have it all.

 

This makes online gaming an attractive option.

What makes online gambling addictive?

 

As with traditional gambling, online gambling can become very addictive impacting every facet of your life. It can destroy the most important relationships and drain finances leaving a player feeling desperate and anxious. The problem with online gambling is that it can be done secretively. These days gambling can be done from your cellphone while at work, at home, or from the back of a taxi.

 

Online casino sites can be accessed from anywhere in the world at any time of the day. One of the biggest attractions to online gaming is the “free to play” versions of various games, which gives players the opportunity to play with fictitious money. When playing “free to play” games the odds will generally be in the player’s favour making it seem that they could also win this easily with real money.

 

Many players get tempted to set up accounts and make deposits because of the promise of free bets and triple deposits by the online casino. It also possible for players to set up numerous accounts with the same casino just by using different credit or debit cards.

Warning signs

 

Unlike an addiction to alcohol or drugs, there are no physical warning signs that a loved one may be struggling with a gambling addiction. The following red flags could indicate that a loved one might have a problem with online gaming:

 

  • Using online gambling to mask feelings of depression and anxiety.

 

  • Failure to follow through on daily tasks such as neglecting work and family commitments.

 

  • Lying about time spent playing online

 

  • Mood swings particularly when not being able to play or when loosing

 

  • Withdrawing money from savings and investment accounts to fund online gambling

 

  • Stealing money from friends or family

 

  • Regular, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling

 

Treatment

 

Just like any other addiction, online gambling is a very real but treatable condition. Players who have an online gambling addiction need to get treatment from trained professionals. Treatment comes in many different forms, ranging from group counseling to various residential treatment facilities.

 

Support networks are a great tool to help those suffering from online gambling addictions. They offer regular meetings with an anonymous group to assist with recovery. Sharing experiences with others is an important step in the healing process.

 

Online gambling is meant to be a fun and entertaining experience. If this has changed into an addictive problem for you, The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation (SARGF) can help. They offer free confidential treatment to players and their families.
Next time you find yourself spending a bit too much time online playing slots, rather think twice before you click “spin” again and again.