Online Gambling & Addiction
“Gambling addiction ruins more than one life and people chase losses with more gambling” – Senator O’Reilly
The addicted gambler will experience and suffer from extreme mood swings and will most likely be battling co-occurring mental health conditions and disorders like anxiety or depression.
On top of this, gambling can often lead to dishonest behaviour, which can encourage gamblers to be otherwise secretive or evasive regarding their behaviour.
Smarmore Castle has an extensive gambling addiction programme.
A new study found that 10,000 Euro a minute was being spent on online Gambling in Ireland, leading Senator Joe O’Reilly to call for €100 limit on all bets and a ban on credit cards being permitted for use in online gambling.
This comes as over 75% of bookmakers Paddy Power’s profits come from ‘online gambling.’
A sign of anxiety
Gambling addiction – also known as ‘pathological’ or ‘compulsive’ gambling – is an impulse-control disorder that describes the inability to control the impulse to gamble, even when you or your loved ones are faced with negative consequences.
Through intensive research, we have found that gambling is often used as a coping mechanism for bouts of low or stressful moods. This is because the thrill of playing or winning provides the gambler with instant gratification and provides a temporary escape from feelings of tension, irritation and anxiety.
The addictive nature of gambling, however, may start as a stress-reliever but can quickly grow out of control and in the end, becomes a source of even more stress.
What gambling does to the brain
The brain is attracted to gambling because of uncertainty. It’s this uncertainty that acts as a reward and plays a crucial role in the attraction to gambling.
Dopamine is released when we partake in enjoyable activities, but it can also be released in situations where the reward can be uncertain. And it’s these dopamine levels that increase on the build-up to the potential reward.
Studies show that the release of dopamine during gambling often occurs in similar areas to the brain that are stimulated during episodes of drug abuse.
It’s these uncertainty changes in the brain that can even enhance a gambler’s cravings and desires, just as seen with addictive drugs.
The near-miss effect and chasing your losses
When you’re close to winning, your brain is stimulated and prompts you to want to play more, reinforcing the feedback loop.
Casinos and slot machines are all set up to provide this near-miss effect, which highly motivates the player and increases their commitment to the game.
Compulsive gambling is a mental illness
Whilst many people who wager, or play cards do not develop a gambling problem, we’ve seen certain factors in those struggling with underlying mental health issues, who can quickly get swept up and through no fault of their own, become a compulsive gambler.
Those who gamble compulsively may have a history of alcohol or substance abuse and may struggle with personality disorders, depression or anxiety. Help for problem gambling
In Ireland, it is estimated that at least 30,000- 40,000 people are addicted to gambling. See report.
We’ve seen time and time again how compulsive gambling has the power to wreak havoc in your life, throwing you out of the driver’s seat and subsequently harming your health and relationships, not to mention leaving you in serious debt.
Signs of problem gambling
- Feeling the need to be secretive / lying about how much you gamble
- Wanting to surprise your loved ones with a big win
- Trouble controlling your gambling and unable to walk away
- You will gamble until you have spent your last Euro
- You will gamble even when you have no money or using money earmarked for bills or rent on gambling
- Your friends and family are concerned with how much you gamble
Gambling rehab: Take a free addiction assessment.
Many gamblers try to self-help, and whilst this is a positive step forward, trying to manage your addiction on your own can lead to negative thoughts about recovery due to relapse and an inability to control your recovery on your own.
The biggest positive step you can take in your recovery is by admitting you need help and support to get through this. Don’t despair! You do not have to do this alone.
Here at Smarmore Castle, we employ specially trained psychiatrists, who have dedicated their expertise to addiction for their entire careers. Our doctors oversee remarkably effective treatment programmes that are committed to treating gambling addiction.
Our private gambling rehab has helped so many individuals turn their lives around and helped show many people that they don’t have to feel isolated, alone and shameful about their circumstances.
Let us help. Call +353 41 214 5111.
The news: Restrictions and announcements
More is being done nationally to combat gambling addiction – on top of restrictions on betting limits, the Government are now calling on sports organisations to step away from advertisements from betting firms.
“It might be enriching some sports bodies, but it is ruining the lives of their members and future generations because the firms know that’s where their target market is” – Senator Shane Cassells, Fianna Fáil
The call for concern has been heightened because it’s not just casinos and betting shops that the population need to worry about. These days, everyone has access to the internet or has a mobile phone and can easily gamble on the move.
Whilst this may be good for betting firms’ bottom line, it is a dangerous weapon in the hands of the public, where addicts are targeted with appealing, lifestyle-driven adverts.
“You can’t turn on a sports bulletin on Sky Sports”, says Senator Cassells, “without it being sponsored by a casino.”
For more help and advice, see treatments and help for gambling addiction here.
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Last updated on clinically assessed 23 July, 2021