The 6 Signs of Gambling Addiction
For the past 40 years, Jim and a group of his buddies have gone to the track almost every Saturday. While Sundays are reserved for family time, Saturday afternoons are for time at the races. He is such a nice guy in all other ways that family and friends have come to accept it. Other people play golf or go to ball games or fish. Jim studies the Daily Racing Form and bets on the horses. It’s what he does to relax and to maintain long time friendships.
Jim never, ever, lets himself lose more than he can afford. He has a $30 weekly budget for betting. Once it is gone, he sits back and enjoys cheering on his friends’ picks. If he wins more than he loses, that money goes to fixing things around his house. To him, the time at the track is more about being with his friends and enjoying a sport he loves than it is about gambling. Even though he has at times scored thousands of dollars in trifectas, he isn’t lured to moving outside his personal gambling rules. This is what responsible gambling looks like.
This is Ted
Not so, Ted. He is out of control. Twenty years ago, he had a winning streak at poker that netted him $20,000 in one week. It hasn’t happened since but he keeps trying. Even though he has an occasional win, he generally loses. To support his “hobby”, he is chronically late on his monthly bills and has defaulted on a loan. Unbeknownst to his wife, he has cashed in his life insurance policy and dipped into the kids’ college savings accounts. He has even taken money from his kids. He is anxious and irritable and has frequent fights with his wife about money, time, and, yes, his gambling habit. He always has excuses for not showing up to family events or for taking a “sick day” from work. He isn’t busy with important things. He isn’t sick. He’s at the local casino. His family life is in tatters but he can’t stay away from the game. He refuses to acknowledge it but he is as surely addicted to gambling as a drug addict is to heroin.
Be like Jim
These are true stories, although names have been changed for reasons of privacy. The point is that not all gambling is a problem. Jim’s story is a demonstration that responsible gambling can be a reasonable entertainment. Jim has negotiated time away from the family for his hobby, just as another man might negotiate time to go to ball games with some friends. He doesn’t cloak his gambling activity in secrecy or denial. He doesn’t overspend or go into debt. He could quit going to the track at any time but sees no reason to do so since he loves the excitement of the track and it’s the way he regularly sees friends he cares about.
Ted, on the other hand, is in deep denial — and deep trouble. If he were able to admit it, he would recognize the following signs that he needs help. Hopefully, he is reading this article and sees himself in the following 6 signs of gambling addiction.