Important information for all gamblers
Sports gambling is often compared to the stock market. The risks, the potential
rewards, the tips, the 'sure winners' there are many similarities. Like
the stock market, there is a get-rich-quick myth associated with sports
betting, and the reality rarely matches up.
For virtually all sports gamblers, as for virtually all stock market
speculators, financial gains are small, slow, and long term. Sports gambling is
a high-risk activity, and is not for everyone. Painstaking research and careful
planning can and often do mean nothing in the face of a streak of
simple bad luck. The gains and losses, ups and downs of gambling are simply a
fact of life, and those downs have to be dealt with.
Many people gamble regularly as a hobby, or even as a career, without
difficulty. By controlling both the amount of money and the amount of time they
spend at it, they keep their gambling activities from affecting other areas of
their life. It's not that they aren't looking for the big win it's that
they know how to avoid the big loss. They don't make a bet they can't afford to
Others, however, find that the rush and pleasure they get from gambling makes it
hard to know when to stop. They find they are often betting more than they
should, and they start to rely on a future 'big win' to make up for
When this behavior becomes a pattern that continues for any length of time, that
person is at serious risk of being or becoming a compulsive gambler.
A compulsive gambler is a person whose gambling has caused growing and
continuing problems in any aspect of his or her life. Some of the warning
An inability to stop gambling, whether winning or losing
Constant vows to abstain
Impatience with loved ones
Fantasies of 'this week's win' to overcome 'last week's loss'
Neglecting responsibilities to concentrate on gambling
Wide mood swings
Lack of interest in social situations
It can be easy for people to get swept up in the excitement and suspense of
sports gambling that's a large part of its attraction. What's vital,
though, is to step back from time to time and take a clear-eyed look at what
you're doing and where you stand. Monitor your own behavior as objectively as
possible. Better yet, ask a loved one for their input. One of the hallmarks of
addiction is denial of the problem so defensiveness when confronted
about it can be a danger sign. If someone is telling you that you have a
gambling problem, chances are you probably do.
Don't think you do? Prove it. Take a piece of paper and write it all down for
them: what you've spent, what you've won, what you've lost and how
you've budgeted for what you've lost. Be honest with them and brutally
honest with yourself. Is the time or money you are spending on gambling taking
away from other areas of your life? Do you feel that you can't stop until you
make up your losses? Are you saying things like, "I can stop anytime, I
just have to _____ first"? If any of these things are happening, it's time
to take control.
If you are in control of your gambling, the 'prove it' test should show it.
Yeah, yeah, it's boring being so responsible, we know but hey, you're a
Suffering from a gambling problem or addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. Some
people are simply more vulnerable to addictive behavior than others, in the
same way that some people are prone to depression. In fact, recognizing that
you have a problem and taking steps to deal with are things to be proud of.
If you think you're showing signs of being or becoming a compulsive gambler, you
should speak to your family doctor or a community health organization as soon
as possible. They can help you find the help you need. If you prefer, another
very good idea is to contact your local chapter of Gamblers Anonymous. If you
don't know where the nearest chapter is, check their Web page:
Remember: You can't win if you're not in control.