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Problem Gambling & Help in UK

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Gambling Help in UK

Man losing at roulette table in casino

Man losing at roulette table in casino

Also known as compulsive or problem gambling, gambling addiction is a behavioral problem wherein an individual compulsively indulges or bets cash on chance-based games, even when he is not capable of withstanding probable losses.

The addiction may cause a huge negative turnaround in the life of the victim and his/her immediate family. If statistics don’t lie, there are close to 450,000 problematic gamblers in the UK. They’re not just men; even women are getting hooked onto these games for several hours straight. Adding to this misery is alcohol abuse, which has a strong link with gambling.

Gambling addicts often skip school or work to gamble. They often neglect their personal and family needs, and also resort to stealing money. Interjecting and getting rid of the addiction is imperative because bankruptcy or surmounting debts are often the ultimate results.

How to Determine If You Have a Gambling Problem?

Gambling addiction is perhaps the most misinterpreted condition among the various types of compulsive

Woman losing at roulette table in casino

Woman losing at roulette table in casino

human dependencies. What may seem like breaching the borders of addiction to one could look perfectly normal and within control to another. This makes it difficult to differentiate the compulsive gambler from the normal lot, with things eventually ending in the undermining of the addiction treatment.

Gambling addicts aren’t part of their majority. Their percentage representation is, in fact, in single digit figures. If you are a gambler yourself and aren’t sure whether you’re itching close to the addiction stage, answer the following questions:

· Are you skipping daily work and routine tasks just to allocate more time for gambling?

· Are you losing interest in socializing with friends, and prefer gambling over human interaction?

· Are you neglecting relationships?

· Do you have constant verbal disputes with your family or friends over issues of gambling and money?

· Are you hiding or lying about your gambling habits to others?

· Are you borrowing money, stealing or selling possessions just to amass some gambling funds?

· Are you unable to stop your gambling inclinations despite being aware of the ill-effects?

· Are you experiencing frequent mood swings or mental issues?

If you have answered the majority of these questions in the affirmative, you unfortunately have a problem on your hands.

Gambling addiction isn’t like other forms of addiction – especially substance addiction. In other words, a person addicted to casino games would probably not exhibit the same signs of an addiction to a substance – such as alcohol, drugs, etc. However, the chemical reaction taking place within the brains of compulsive gamblers is quite similar to substance addicts, which cannot be easily discerned by the onlooker. In most cases, therefore, it is the gambler who is the best judge of his state of mind and gaming dependency. Others generally come to terms with the issue only once it escalates into a financial crisis or a social issue.

Also, an addicted gambler may not necessarily gamble every day. Losing gambling bets is also not mandatory to tag an individual as an addict.

Blocking Yourself from Playing Online

With online casinos, things have become much easier for people to access their favorite casino games from anywhere in the world. Initially, people gamble for a dose of fun and stimulation and to shut off their minds to routine life pressures.

Though ironical, it’s true that what seemed like an effective channel to eliminate loneliness, stress, and anxiety in the beginning ultimately ends up in further emotional discomfort and depression. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques to cut down the indulgence.

i) Software Tools

There are many software tools that help block unwanted websites. These applications perhaps are the easiest way to curb the gambling temptation. The applications generally come in the form of site blockers, which can be easily downloaded and installed. These tools don’t come for free, and since you have so many options at disposal, it’s wise to learn more and then make a choice. Gamblock and Net Nanny are two of the many options available.

ii) Self-Exclusion

There’s another shutdown option called “self-exclusion” wherein the gambling service provider offers the user the option to suspend or permanently restrict access to the online casino. In fact, gambling sites in the UK are obliged to give their members this alternative. The self-exclusion can also be done after requesting the online gambling company where you hold an account to suspend or terminate your user account.

iii) Interact More with Family and Friends

Prioritize your family and friend circle. Give more importance to their acquaintances and the little conversations you have with them. You may even use this opportunity to discuss in detail about your addiction issues and gain various perspectives, as a result.

It’s important you lose interest in gambling or engross your mind into some hobby or activity that keeps you occupied mentally and emotionally. If not, you are likely to find a way out despite all the barricades you erect.

Where to Seek Help?

Gambling addiction is not a one way path and there are ways to fall out of the victimized phase, as briefly discussed before. Let’s look at some rehabilitation centers in the UK that can lend a helping hand.

a)   Specialized NHS Clinics (

If you live in the UK – Wales or England, specifically – you can

look for some help from NHS clinics for problematic gamblers. These national clinics for problem gambling are out on a mission to advance or augment their current treatment models and churn out new ones for psychological gambler therapies.

The group intends to be a globally recognized research and treatment centre for everyone affected by problem and pathological gambling. The treatment programs offered are qualified and have proven to work. Some of the salient features of the treatment center are:

· Multiple-week treatment plan for individuals and groups

· A confidential and safe place for interactions

· The professionals at work really know their job

· A support group that is constantly by the gambling victim’s side during the course of treatment

· If relapses take place or something goes wrong, the team is always around for help

· Money management services so that the rehabilitation expenses don’t shoot through the roof

· Useful advice on social, employment and relationship issues

National Problem Gambling Clinic (NPGC) has a referral system in place. The referrals could be sent in by self or through a general practitioner. If it’s a GP referral, an accompanying report or letter from the medical organization would also be required. Once the referral is received and acknowledged, it takes approximately three weeks for the assessment call to come in. Other forms of communication may also be followed if specifically mentioned on the referral note. The assessment process would last for close to 90 minutes with several issues, such as the nature of the addiction and related concerns brought to the table.

The clinic offers various treatment options, often arrived at post weekly-held discussions among the crew.

i) Brief Intervention

This includes a set of four formal interactions between the psychologist and gambler. Self-help manuals are also added to the sessions. This type of meeting is ideal for individuals who have momentarily refrained from their gambling indulgences but aren’t sure about the future.

ii) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a treatment that’s eight weeks long, with every session covering a unique topic. As per research, CBT is efficient enough to treat problem gambling. It is used for helping clients detect and control their problematic triggers and irrational thinking. It helps put theory into practice – the knowledge gained from other sessions.

This could include filling sheets for enhancing awareness, trying out new coping techniques, and developing new behaviors, such as fresh hobbies. CBT treatments are usually offered to groups, with most of the sessions held in the evenings. Once the sessions are done with, additional support or further assistance is rendered.

Individuals completing the treatment courses can be part of NPGC’s native support group. This is open to all past attendees of the course, who may fall back to the support team if they need advice or are seeking assistance on behalf of others.

According to estimates, 20 percent gamblers in the UK are women. NPGC, therefore, has a dedicated support group for female victims. The treatment package comprises individual interactions as well as group treatments. Family therapy is available for members of the family who’d like to offer support to each other, acquire fresh perspectives and determine new solutions for the difficulties experienced.

b)   GamCare (

There is another UK-based support organization called GamCare. It is UK’s leading provider of advice, information and support for problem gambling prevention and treatment. The group’s services are non-judgmental, confidential and expert-driven.

Its offerings are catered towards gambling addicts and their loved ones. With its Freephone HelpLine and Netline, an online equivalent, GamCare is committed to providing confidential, live and personal advice, information and emotional assistance. The helplines are open every day, from 8am to 12am.

There is also the option of chat room and online forums for people who’d like to share experiences and suggestions for other members to take notice of and benefit from. The forum has multiple threads with specific ones for new members, problem gambler support, recovery diaries, and general information. New posts generally abound these forums on a daily basis.

Offices in Manchester and London are used to offer face-to-face individual counseling. Other regions in Great Britain are covered through partner networks. At the moment, GamCare has 19 partners stretched across the length and breadth of Great Britain. As a result, approximately 90 percent of GB’s adult population is within the group’s reach.

Besides offering addiction support and advice, GamCare also provides training and advice on player protection and social responsibility via GamCare Certification, a fee-based offering. Furthermore, GamCare also consistently develops prevention strategies and educational materials for the youth to bring about more awareness and highlight the gambling risks.

c)   Gamblers Anonymous UK (

Gamblers Anonymous UK is a congregation of gambling addicts (both men and women) who spell out their personal experiences with the hope of gaining some strength and support and also help other people in the community battling with similar issues.

It can be tagged the British equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The community, in fact, adopts the twelve-step method that’s identical to AA, and also has an assistance group, called Gam-Anon, for relatives. Gam-Anon is basically for individuals affected by the gambling addictions of his/her spouse, relative or friend. The support group offers insights and tips on finding the addiction signs and when to take the plunge.

The participants of this group are taught to be friendly and extend a helping hand to anyone in need of assistance. There aren’t any premium registrations or memberships needed. You would only have to be present at the meetings promptly – whenever and wherever they are held.

The fellowship holds meetings at several places in the United Kingdom, with more than 170 sessions per week. There are various kinds of meetings. The most basic ones are where compulsive gamblers interact directly with other gamblers in the group and share advice and suggestions. The following are the various kinds of meetings held:

· Normal meetings: These meetings involve gambling addicts sitting down and interacting with or sharing thoughts and ideas among themselves. No professionals or counselors are part of the picture here. Even family and friends of the victims can participate in these meetings.

· Open meetings: An open meeting isn’t too frequent; every group generally holds such meetings once every year. Friends and family can be part of these meetings as well, just like normal meetings. However, open meetings differ in their focus from normal sessions as past compulsive gamblers or addicts who have abstained from gambling for several months or even years are offered recognition.

· Steps meetings: These meetings are meant for people who have been regulars at other meetings. The discourse generally focuses on the core aspects of addiction treatment, such as the 12-step program.

· Gamanon meetings: Gamanon interactive sessions are specially held for family and friends of gamblers. Not every Gamblers Anonymous UK group holds such meetings; however, information regarding who holds them and who doesn’t is fairly easy to find out.


Gambling is a great way to relax and have some fun for people who are confident of staying on top of their minds and not yielding to pressure. If you aren’t particularly sure, then stay away. This is because once the addiction creeps in; you are likely to gamble away any amount of money you possess.