Even when we only play with what we can afford to lose; and let's be honest, we have no business doing anything else; we might still regret losing our bankroll for that session. And though it is rare, there are times when 'just one more spin', or 'I'm going high-variance-balls-to-the-wall with what's left' is all it takes to get back in the black and cash out a princely sum.
Don't get me wrong – I don't advocate that sort of play. The house always has the edge and I never sit down with more than I am willing to risk (as in give away for the potential thrill of a win) but this is gambling and sometimes I do it. Does that make me a problem gambler? Nope, not in and of itself.
Now if I'm a little short on bills for the month or shy of milk-money for the week, and I sit down with the thought in mind of winning enough to make up the difference; or if I am betting with money that I planned on using for savings, or another improvement in my life.. Well, we just might have a problem here.
It's surprising how many avid gamblers don't really have a household budget per se. A truly responsible gambler – and those are the only ones who are truly happy gamblers – have all the bills paid, savings and retirement planned for, miscellaneous and emergency funds set aside, and other entertainment expenses budgeted. That's a pretty tall order, especially these days! At the very least a responsible gambler has a predetermined and limited bankroll, or only plays with 'found money' or windfalls – and even those are predetermined bankrolls.
If I'm depriving my family or myself of anything so that I can have a little fun, 'get a little relief' or 'reduce my stress' or 'just escape for a little while', I'm afraid I might have a gambling problem. If I'm on full tilt or even making another $20 deposit with money I can't afford to lose in hopes of winning back my losses or getting further ahead… I’m afraid I really do have a problem.
We're not talking about bankroll management here. As far as we're concerned that is an entirely separate subject. And there are no 'little' gambling problems! The 'bet max' button is one click away and the same effort needed to make one hundred twenty cent spins to burn through a twenty dollar bill is the same number of clicks needed to do ten thousand or more dollars worth of spins with potentially disastrous results!
Now, we're not painting the single parent who dips into next weeks gambling budget - knowing that if they lose they won't be able to play next week – with the same brush as the executive poker player on full-tilt who calls in to their broker in the middle of the game. And we know there is certainly a difference between 'forgetting where the cash-out button is' and the decision to make another deposit when we hadn't planned to.
Almost all of us push the envelope a little bit now and then even though we shouldn't. But that's no reason to chase losses or give up hope for anything but a jackpot or other big win… that truly is a recipe for disaster.
Gambling is supposed to be fun! It's no fun lying to a mate or avoiding creditors, feeling like a failure, drinking or using some other behavior in excess to cover the pain, and it's certainly no fun to want to play and not be able to because you don't have any 'mad-money' for the next next session!
If you think you might have a gambling problem, or you just aren't sure, please look over the information we've gathered from places that help people with a gambling problem. It's up to you to decide if you have a gambling problem. By all means involve family and friends if you think they may see some things about you that you don’t. But ultimately you are the one responsible for your actions and the only one who can do anything about them.
You may have noticed that we have links on the bottom of our pages, just as every casino we list here does, to solutions for problem gambling. Addiction Recovery is an inexact science so sometimes treatment modalities will conflict and contradict each other. The good news is that if you have a problem there is most likely a form of help for you; one that you are comfortable with. There's no sense in getting all torn up inside trying to decide which one to choose or which way to go. If you think you have a problem, just do something about it. We're behind you 100% of the way.
GA is a twelve step program with its gambling help origins in two problem gamblers who started the first meeting in LA in 1957. According to 'Wikipedia Gamblers Anonymous' as of 2005 there was over 1,000 GA meetings the world over. The program is a mirror image of the Alcoholics Anonymous Program and states that it is based on spiritual principals and each participant may interpret those as they see fit.
They provide a list of 20 questions as a self-diagnosis tool.
- Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
- Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
- Did gambling affect your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
- Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
- After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
- After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
- Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
- Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
- Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
- Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
- Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
- Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
- Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
- Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
- Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
- Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
- Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
- Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
Gamblers Anonymous states that a compulsive gambler will answer 'yes' to at least seven of the previous questions. If you think you may have a problem and would like to get in touch with GA, please click the following link Gamblers Anonymous Help or dial toll free in the US 888-GA-HELPS (888-424-3577) for the location of a meeting near you.
GamCare takes a progressive and scientific approach and quite possibly has a much higher success rate than 'traditional' 12-Step programs. And although they are London-based and Live Counselors are only available online to residents of Great Britain, they also provide support for all interested without regard to country of origin through a forum and chat room. According to their website, "GamCare Advisors frequently visit the Forum and moderate each Chat session to answer questions and give advice and ensure a safe environment."
The following two programs do not focus specifically on problem gambling, but they have been known to be very effective in addressing other addictive behaviors. By no means are we endorsing them or suggesting that they may be more effective, but we offer them by way of an alternative to those who may have tried the more traditional help programs with little or no success.
RR is based on AVRT, or Addictive Voice Recognition Technique. In a nutshell how you would self-diagnose under this model is to simply ask yourself the questions:
- Have I ever decided not to gamble but did it anyway?
- Do I feel both ways about gambling?
- Am I emotionally involved and conflicted when I say to myself … "I want do but I don't, I might have a problem, I might not?"
The website uses the term 'alcohol' which is replaceable with anything from 'drugs' to 'food', to 'gambling'.
Self Management and Recovery Training
SMART Recovery is based on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy or REBT and is a scientifically progressive outgrowth of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They offer over 500 face to face meetings, sixteen online meetings per week, and a message board where you can get advice, coaching, or exercises. The basis of their behavioral modification program is the ABC exercise. A sample follows:
A. (Activating situation) I spent more than I planned to when I gambled today.
B. (Irrational Belief I have about A) …such a bad run, my luck HAS to change so I'll deposit some more money.
C. (Consequences of having those beliefs about A) I lost all my money, spent money I needed for other things. I feel guilty and remorseful, life sucks. I think I'm a born loser.
D. (Dispute the irrational Belief/s in B) WHY does my luck have to change? The odds are the same on every spin. The house always has the advantage. Chasing losses is not a solution to anything.
E. (Effective new thinking) I may have lost my first deposit but I'm not going to deposit again. I had a bankroll. I had my chance. I'm done gambling for today. I will CHOOSE to not upset myself about this. Being upset only sets me up to try to feel better by winning. It's in the past and time to move on.
Nevada Council on Problem Gambling
The "Nevada Council on Problem Gambling" mission is to generate awareness and promote education and advocate for quality treatment of problem gambling in the State of Nevada. Although their site is not geared toward the online gambler we still feel that it is a very beneficial site that will offer you much needed help should you find yourself with a true gambling problem.
Whichever modality you choose, the important thing is that if you feel you have a gambling problem, it's time to do something about it! All casinos we list here will assist you if you don't wish to gamble there any longer. Simply contact customer support and inform them that you would like to exclude yourself from their casino. You may have options for how long you wish to exclude, and some may even impose another 'cooling down' period after the time expires and you contact them to re-open your account. If you opt for lifetime exclusion, you should never be able to gamble there again, or at other casinos they share that sort of information with. We suggest that you contact one of the Problem Gambling programs we have listed here before you make that decision; they should be able to help you determine if you have a problem.
See those 'Responsible Gambling' logos in the footer below? Now you know more about them and you know what to do if you need to.
American Madness Directed by: Frank Capra, Allan Dwan
The Gambling Guru