Online gambling has become increasingly popular over the last few years. Widespread use of smartphones, high internet connectivity, easy access to online casino platforms, the proliferation of gambling advertising, celebrity endorsements and the rising popularity of digital payments have made it highly accessible, convenient and appealing.
However, as the number of Americans who gamble online continues to grow, there may be an increase in people experiencing gambling problems. Having a gambling disordercan wreak havoc on your physical and mental health, cause relationship conflict and lead to serious debt.
In this article, we look at self-exclusion as a way of breaking unhealthy patterns of behavior and explore whether it can work for online gambling.
Everything You Need to Know About Self-Exclusion to Limit (or Stop) Online Gambling and What More Can be Done
What is Self-Exclusion in Gambling?
Self-exclusion (or self-limiting) in gambling is when you take an action that reduces your access to gambling opportunities. Examples include voluntary self-exclusion, when you ask a gambling operator to exclude you from all gambling activity for an agreed amount of time, and voluntary limit-setting, when you set a budget of time or money for your gambling often using tools provided by the gambling operator. Self-exclusion can be an important first step in regaining control of your gambling habit, or quitting altogether.
Traditionally, self-exclusion was most widely available at brick and mortar casinos and gambling venues and the process could be very time and labor intensive. For example, a person who lives near casinos in multiple state or tribal jurisdictions may have to exclude themselves from each jurisdiction separately, a process which could take hours of time on multiple days to complete. This would also not necessarily include online gambling opportunities, which might need additional actions to exclude from.
However, self-exclusion tools are now available as a way of curbing online gambling activities. Gambling blocking software – such as Gamban – can be downloaded on all your devices to restrict access to thousands of gambling websites and apps. Additionally, certain banks allow customers to block gambling transactions which is another way of abstaining from online gambling.
When and Why to Self-Exclude from Online Gambling
There are several warning signs that it may be time to consider self-exclusion:
- You have repeatedly tried to stop or cut down your online gambling but nothing has worked.
- You no longer gamble because you want to – the urge to gamble is becoming uncontrollable.
- You need to gamble larger sums or money and/or gamble more often to experience the same high.
- Gambling is having a negative impact on your health, relationships, job and/or finances.
- You feel anxious, restless or irritable when you’re unable to gamble.
- You gamble to relieve low moods.
- Even when you’re not gambling, you’re thinking about itand planning your next gambling session.
- After losing money, you keep gambling to try to get even (known as chasing losses) even when you know the odds are against you.
- You sometimes lie about the amount of time you spend gambling online.
Advantages of Self-Exclusion in Online Gambling
If you have tried different ways of cutting down or reducing your online gambling without success, then self-exclusion can be an effective tool. It’s an opportunity to take a complete break from gambling and focus on your health, happiness, relationships and finances. It will also give you time and space to find other hobbies and interests to replace gambling.It is highly likely that your unhealthy gambling habits have impacted your family and friends. Tell them that you are taking positive steps to regain control of your life. Their support will be invaluable as you take the first steps to recovery.
Disadvantages of Self-Exclusion in Online Gambling
Even if you block your access to online gambling sites, there can still be opportunities and temptations to gamble or engage in gambling-related activities:
- New gambling apps and websites are launched every day so some may evade immediate detection from blocking software.
- Gambling advertising is everywhere – TV, radio, billboards, online and social media – so it can be difficult to avoid these potential triggers.
- Even if you are self-limited from online gambling, there are still web-based forums, message boards and groups for sharing gambling experiences making it difficult to fully remove gambling from your life.
- Spending time with friends and family who gamble may tempt you to get involved in their activity or find other ways to gamble yourself.
Another weakness of self-exclusion in online gambling is low awareness. In a recent survey by Gamban, over 50% of respondents were unaware that blocking tools existed before a gambling company brought it to their attention.
If you do manage to avoid all online activity, despite the above risks and temptations, and cut all ties with gambling, it can be like going cold turkey with all the unwanted side effects. Over time, gambling addiction changes the makeup of the brain and professional treatment is recommended alongside self-exclusion to overcome the problem.
How to Get Help for Your Gambling Problem
If you’re experiencing harm from online gambling – whether or not you’ve tried installing self-exclusion software on your devices – we can help.
Join an Online Support Group
At Kindbridge, we understand the challenges of trying to stop gambling, and the feelings of helplessness and isolation. That’s why we have set up online support groups for individuals with gambling addiction, facilitated by licensed therapists and certified problem gambling counselors. These specialized groups provide a safe space for you to connect with other gambling addicts, share your story and receive professional support.
We also offer online support groups for families of gambling addicts. These welcoming sessions can be a lifeline for those who are impacted by gambling disorder. Discover how to support a loved one’s recovery alongside a group of people in similar situations who fully understand what you’re going through.
Discover Your Options for Recovery
To find out more about our gambling counseling services and how we can help you, please contact us. Call +1 (877) 426-4258 or email [email protected]