Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Learn about Problem Gambling
1. HOW DO YOU DEFINE A GAMBLING ADDICTION?
An addiction is when gambling dominates and takes over a person's life, and drives what he/she thinks, feels and do on a day-to-day basis. So the person is no longer in charge, and gambling ends up destroying their work performance , their ability to parent or to relate to friends/family, and gets them into a desperate financial situation.
2. HOW CAN WE TELL IF IT'S AN ADDICTION OR JUST AN INTEREST / HOBBY THAT WE HAVE?
Casual gambling is when one:
- Gambles for fun
- Gambles within means (e.g. money and time)
- Is able to stop gambling any time
- Cause no harm to oneself or one's family
The symptoms of gambling addiction include:
- Betting with more money than planned
- Repeatedly trying to win back losses
- Lying about problems resulting from gambling
- Missing work and family commitments
- Thinking about gambling all the time
- Trying to reduce gambling but unable to do so
- Having increased debt, unpaid bills, or other financial troubles because of gambling
3. WHAT DRIVES PEOPLE TO GAMBLE AND TO BECOME ADDICTED TO IT?
There are many reasons why people gamble, including:
- To experience excitement and fun
- For enjoyment, sometimes with friends or family
- To relieve boredom or negative feelings
- To distract themselves from problems in their life
- To try and get more money
Some people can gamble responsibly, whether occasionally or regularly, and stay in control. For some others, it can spiral out of control. Those who gamble to relieve boredom or negative feelings, as a distraction from dealing with problems in life, or thinking they can get quick and big money because of a few early wins, are particularly at risk of developing problem gambling. It can happen to anyone at any age. Many problem gamblers are first exposed to social gambling activities during the festive season or when try out seemingly harmless bets when watching football games with friends etc. They usually start with small bets that grow over time.
For example, the European football season takes place from May to August each year. During this period, many football enthusiasts, including youths may bet on games. We often see help-seeking occuring at the end of the season, after punters chalk up huge losses and are at their wits' end.
4. WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL WAYS WE CAN WEAN SOMEONE OFF GAMBLING, ESPECIALLY OUR ELDERLY LOVED ONES?
- Set aside a predetermined amount of money for gambling and stick to it
- Do not bet more than you can afford to lose - that is, use only money you can spare, after considering your financial obligations
- Recognise that in most gambling games, people lose their money. Think of it as spending money to and time for fun - you don't get it back. It is not a way to earn a living, or to get quick money.
To help our loved ones wean off gambling, we might wish to consider the following methods:
- Do so gradually, especially if the person has been gambling habitually for years
- Help to limit their access to large sums of money or credit
- Spend time with the elderly or involve them more in family life - this helps them feel less bored and downhearted
- Introduce replacement activities that the person may be open to (e.g. sports and fitness, reading, playing board games, playing online games without gambling elements)
- Share inspirational stories of how others have also overcome gambling addiction (e.g. NCPG's ambassadors Mark Lee and Wang Lei. Videos of their stories can be found online)
- Avoid nagging, criticising or embarrassing them openly