Abstain from Social Media if You Have a Gambling Problem?

There is a list of activities that problem gamblers should stay away from while in the early stages of recovery, if not on a longterm basis or permanently, depending upon the severity of their compulsion. These activities can all trigger a return to gambling. Beyond the obvious (gambling apps and physical casinos) individuals may consider abstaining from watching sports, daily fantasy sports, video games, and even porn which either relate to or cooccur with gambling disorder. Admittedly, this doesn’t leave an individual with a lot to do online. Consequently, they (you) may spend more time on social media. Unfortunately, this too can be complicated for someone who has a problematic relationship with casino gaming and/or sports betting. Here’s why.

4 Reasons to Consider a Social Media Blackout When in Recovery for Problem Gambling

1. Social Gaming is Gambling

Social media platforms and operators work together to create “pay to play” games that function a lot like (or identically to) casino games. Instead of real money rewards, winnings are provided under the guise of coins, tokens, and other prizes. In some cases these rewards can be traded in for actual cash. Those that do will offer free play options on a given social network in the hopes that they will transition a player over to their website or app where the cash deposit and payout integration occurs. These are called social casinos or sweepstakes casinos. They subvert government regulations regarding gambling because of the way they set up the reward structure. Meanwhile, games that remain on the social platforms that do not offer a real money payout option still function like casinos. Players pay real money to “re-up”, “boost”, and/or progress to the next level, being rewarded in a purely psychological way that mirrors the gambling dopamine connection.

2. Social Platform Gambling Advertising

Meta has the following guidelines in place regarding the allowance of online gambling advertising:

Social Media Gambling

It doesn’t take an investigative journalist to identify the loopholes in their policy.

Not only may gambling advertising be presented to you based upon geography, casino gaming and sports betting operators are allowed to manage and maintain profiles on Instagram, TikTok, and X with relative impunity even if they can’t pay to promote ads. Given your recent history with online gambling, social algorithms will continue to feed you related content which may trigger your compulsion.

3. Social Media Influencers Promote Gambling

As alluded to above, exposure to social media gambling advertising is a threat even without the allowance of paid promotions. Influencers, either through their own volition or due to sponsorships, are promoting gambling behavior to their audiences which can trigger those with gambling disorder. Even if you don’t initiate a social media blackout, be sure to block these 5 celebrities from your periphery.

4. Social Media is Like a Slot Machine

“The pull-to-refresh and infinite scrolling mechanism on our news feeds are unnervingly similar to a slot machine, said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist for Google who has been described as the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience […] We cannot know when we will be rewarded, and more often than not we don’t find anything interesting or gratifying, much like gambling. But that’s precisely what keeps us coming back.”

University of Michigan

Mind blown? When you read how Harris’ laid it out, it all makes sense. The scrolling function of Instagram and TikTok news feeds that result in the delivery of content absolutely mimics the operation of casino slots. The same is true of pull-to-refresh function which unveils whether or not someone has liked, commented on, or shared (all rewards) our own content.

Social media platforms are employing the same techniques as gambling operators to create psychological dependencies. They theoretically do so to increase their daily active user (DAU) base to satiate advertisers, but in the process they foster an environment conducive to compulsive behavior. A problem gambler on social media can therefore trade one compulsion for another, which places them further from the goal line of mental and behavioral wellness.

As you can see, a social media blackout may not just be recommended, but essential depending upon the severity of your gambling compulsion. The good news, is that there are far more enjoyable and healthier alternatives to gambling that will help break the hold the activity has on your life. One of these activities includes engagement with a counselor who specializes in what you’re going through. Reach out via the contacts provided below to get started.

Concerned About Your Relationship with Gambling?

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


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Social Media Gambling