"When the fun stops - stop!" - could be the perfect slogan for gambling prevention. Better still, it could be heard by everyone with a gambling addiction, but the reality is that words are just words. In various countries, including Lithuania, the percentage of people with a gambling addiction ranges from a meagre 0.2% to a full 5% (in Lithuania, about 4.2% of the Lithuanian population has a pathological craving for gambling, which is a very high figure). And this frightening statistic is only increasing every year. How can I protect myself from gambling traps? Responsible gambling - how can you learn to gamble in a way that puts the excitement of the game above the money? The answer is hard to find, but possible.
Legalisation of gambling
Lithuanian gambling is now 19 years old. On 1 July 2001, the Law on Gambling of the Republic of Lithuania was adopted, which legalised and, at the same time, brought under control the organisation and operation of gambling houses. Why was it adopted and what are its benefits? Before the adoption of the Law, after Lithuania regained its independence, the gambling market was flooded with unprecedented innovations. Various gambling devices and machines were set up everywhere - in bus and train stations, cafés, bars, even underground gambling houses. The problem was that all gambling had no rules, so even minors were playing, and the machines themselves were juxtaposed with computer games. The disorder became extremely rampant and the need to control the situation of 'wild casinos' arose.
The Law ushered in another golden age of gambling, with the establishment of legal gambling houses and a multifold increase in the number of gamblers. As in all areas of life, this has of course been influenced by globalisation, the progress and spread of information technology and innovation, and the infinite availability of information from anywhere at any time. Want to play in a serious casino? Please, there are at least 18 gambling houses still operating in Lithuania today. Maybe you prefer slot machines? You'll find a triple-digit number of parlours - as many as 205. Or are you a die-hard betting guru? There are 163 betting shops to try your hand.
Online casinos conquer the world of gambling (or addiction?)
If you're too lazy to leave the house, you can try out all kinds of gambling games from the comfort of your sofa. The realm of casino houses is rapidly moving online, and it's only a matter of time before it overtakes physical gambling houses in popularity. While online gambling has been around the world for quite a long time, in our country a major change took place in 2016 when remote gambling in online gambling houses was legalised.
In addition, online casinos, unlike physical casinos, offer the possibility to gamble with credit cards instead of cash. This makes it a little easier to become addicted, as you don't see the amount of cash yourself and you don't assess the real losses. After all, sometimes all it takes is the click of a button and you're looking at free spins, extra bonuses and countless other benefits. It's also a lot easier to play without having to leave your house, and online casinos are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
With the gradual increase in the range of gambling on offer and the expansion of the gambling house market as a whole, a sensitive topic has been raised - gambling addiction or, in other words, prevention - responsible gambling. The biggest problem was that those affected and their relatives did not know how to overcome the disease due to a lack of knowledge and information. In addition, at the outset, there were no qualified professionals who understood the causes of and solutions to gambling addiction.
Many people are excitable, but the level of excitement varies according to temperament, beliefs, habits and even gender. After all, we've probably all bought a lottery ticket at least once and crossed our fingers to get lucky. For some, it's an easy and non-committal one-off activity, while for others it's a hook to get them to gamble more, more often and for larger sums. Simply put, they are overwhelmed by curiosity, intertwined with risk and the belief that after a few disappointments, they are bound to be lucky. People addicted to gambling repeat the act because they want to feel better, to experience pleasure or to make their lives easier.
Second strongest dependency
Gambling addiction is called ludomania (the name comes from the Latin word Ludus, meaning game). It is an exaggerated, morbid craving for gambling - cards, slot machines, betting, sweepstakes, etc. The urge to gamble overwhelms the person to the point where he or she loses his or her common sense, is unaware of his or her own actions, sometimes does not consider the risks to his or her own life, and these stories end sadly. Such people disregard absolutely no obligations, be they professional, personal or social. If necessary, they can lose all their own and their relatives' money, go into debt, blackmail, extort and engage in other activities that violate the law.
Medical researchers studying addiction have found that ludomania is surpassed only by substance addiction. It is hard to imagine what it must be like for a person who, without any remorse, decides in just a few minutes to literally "put his own fate and that of his loved ones at stake". It is the uncontrollable passion for the senses, the endless risks, the emotions that come with gambling that are so strong that, at times of emergency, one is not even aware of one's actions.
Some facts from Lithuania to understand the scale of the problem. According to a 2015 study, gambling cravings are common across all social groups in our country. It is noted that young and middle-aged men are the most likely to gamble and are 3-4 times more likely to be addicted than women. According to research data, more than half (53%) of men aged 18-40 living in Lithuania's major cities have gambled at least once, and a third (33%) of active gamblers admitted to having psychological, financial, social and communication problems as a result of excessive gambling.
What is responsible gambling and how can I learn to gamble responsibly?
Responsible gambling is perceived as gambling that can be easily controlled. Responsible gambling is when you play for the experience, for the thrill, not for the money. Whether you buy a lottery ticket, place a bet or play in an online casino, the most important thing is to learn how to control yourself and to understand that the house will always have the upper hand. This means that you will only lose money, and the lucky day when you lean back and gain the upper hand will never come. Gambling, first and foremost, needs to be understood as a form of entertainment that requires expenditure. Just like watching TV, buying tickets for a film or going for a ride on a merry-go-round, we assess the time/cost ratio and are satisfied with the length of the film or the merry-go-round.
Tips on how to gamble without getting addicted:
Have a sense of time - set time limits and don't exceed them.
Set a monetary limit and never go over it by telling yourself "just this once". Limits can be sensibly increased or decreased if you see your wallet getting empty fast.
Review your gambling history - track your cash transactions, evaluate your spending and your withdrawals.
Take breaks between gambling of a day to a week or more. If you don't feel a strong urge, the length of the breaks won't make you feel emotional.
If there is a problem:
The first step towards healing is a sincere acknowledgement of the problem. Only by being completely open and honest with yourself will you achieve the results you want. This step may be necessary to 1) realise that the problem is still small and learn to educate yourself; 2) seek help from professionals.
Stop gambling altogether - don't play any games of chance, not even for money, because it's very easy to slip up in this industry with its high level of excitement.
Please be aware that you have the option to stop gambling at any time and to make a special request to be blocked by the website and denied entry by the physical casino.
Mark every day you don't wear your clothes in your calendar so you can keep track of your achievements and make it easier to forget, because you'll have more time in the day.
Am I addicted to gambling?
Responsible gambling - how do I know I have an addiction?If you have a problem with gambling and find it difficult to control yourself, you can always turn to specialist organisations that can provide all the help you need. To find out what your level of involvement in gambling is, answer the following questions honestly.
Gambling addiction test:
Do you sacrifice work/lecture time for gambling?
Has gambling made your home life miserable?
Does gambling have a negative effect on your reputation?
Do you feel remorse after gambling?
Do you always gamble to pay your bills and solve your financial problems?
Do you feel the need to go back and make up for lost money?
Do you feel a strong urge to go back and win more?
Do you usually gamble until the last penny is in your pocket?
Have you borrowed money to gamble?
Have you ever sold things to get money for gambling?
Does gambling make you carefree - not taking care of yourself and your family?
Have you ever gambled longer than you planned?
Did you gamble to forget about your problems and worries?
Have you ever done or planned to do anything illegal and punishable by law in order to get money to gamble?
Has gambling made you sleep worse?
Do disappointments and setbacks push you to gamble?
Does successful gambling make you want to celebrate it?
Do you ever think that you are failing as a person because of uncontrolled gambling?
Seven or more positive answers indicate that you may be addicted to gambling. We recommend that you do not ignore the results of your personal survey and seek help from the organisations listed above to help you deal with your addiction problem. After all, it's not for nothing that they say the first step to solving a problem is admitting it to yourself.
Organisations fighting gambling addiction
If you feel that you are struggling to control yourself and that gambling is on your mind, the Lithuanian Supervisory Authority (LSA) is the first to come to your rescue. It was the first organisation to offer problem gamblers the opportunity to sign a special application for a voluntary decision not to gamble. The service not only helps the gambler, but also his/her relatives - the aim of the peer support group they have initiated is to help relatives understand and support the gambler on his/her long road to recovery. LPT on its official websitewww.lpt.lt submits a self-assessment questionnaire, the answers to which allow you to assess your situation as a gambler.
In 2010, in cooperation with the Supervisory Authority, Lošimų strateginė grupė UAB initiated the social project "Nebenoriu gamšti" (I don't want to gamble), which resulted in the creation of an informative web sitewww.nebenoriu-losti.lt The main purpose of this page is to provide information and emotional support to gamblers suffering from gambling addiction and their families.
Republican Centre for Disease Addictionhttps://www.rplc.lt/ also provides all the necessary help to those suffering from the gambling crisis.
It is gratifying to note that every year these organisations and those who have recovered organise seminars, meetings, lectures and conferences on the theme of "Responsible Gambling". Presentations are given not only by representatives of gambling and lottery companies and mental health professionals, but also by those who have recovered and broken free from the grip of addiction.