Ever bet more than you can afford to lose? Or played longer than you’d planned, trying to win back what you’ve lost? It could be a sign that your gambling has gotten out of hand. Time to get real with yourself and take back control.
Gambling can be exhilarating, and the anticipation of a big win can make you feel good. But when you’re losing more than you’re winning, it can stop being fun. And when it happens over and over again, gambling can become a source of anxiety, stress and resentment. The good news is that there are strategies and resources to help you take back control. But how do you know if your gambling has gotten out of hand?
If you’ve lost several hands in a row, you might start to feel like the next play is sure to pay off, right? Wrong. Chasing losses is a vicious cycle that often leads to riskier bets, more and more plays, and dipping into money you don’t want to part with. You think if you can just get one big win, all the pressure will fade away. But it won’t—the chase usually leads to more losses.
Ignoring how much you play
Maybe you’re not truthful about how much you play, or you avoid telling new friends that you gamble, or conveniently don’t mention to your partner, friends or parents that you played last night. If any of these sound familiar, something’s off. Time for a reality check.
Using gambling to combat stress or as an escape
Maybe you’re feeling some kind of void or gnawing feeling, which gambling helps to wipe away. When you’re playing, you forget about other troubles, relationships, stress at work. But it’s temporary. After the game is done, the feelings come back. And it can be even worse if you’ve lost.
Anger, regret or anxiety around gambling
Feeling regret for making a bet or anxiety when heading to the casino or playing online is a major red flag. Emotions like these can lead you to override your game plan. And slight deviations from your plan can have big consequences, leading you to chase losses and feel even more regret, frustration and anger at yourself.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game, or feel peer pressure to keep playing, there are several things that can help you regain control. Here are some key strategies you need to put into practice before you gamble again.
1. Set a Budget
|Decide how much money you’re going to gamble with. If you lose it, it’s gone and you’re done. Don’t try to win it back. On PlayNow, you can set your Weekly Deposit Limit to an amount you can afford. Your Weekly Deposit Limit is the maximum amount you can deposit into your PlayNow Account within each 7-day period. Never borrow money or use money intended for necessities, like rent or food.|
2. Set a time limit
|Decide how long you’re going to play. It’s too easy to tell yourself, just one more, and see one hand turn into ten. Set a timer on your phone or watch, and walk away when time is up. On PlayNow, you can set a maximum amount for your playing time - daily and weekly.|
3. Remind yourself: the house always wins
|All forms of gambling favour the house. That’s why chasing your losses simply doesn’t work. No matter how experienced you are, you’re going to lose over time. Gambling is not a way to make money. Play for fun, or not at all.|
4. Schedule breaks
|Check in with yourself and take stock of how you’re doing. Grab a bite, exercise, open Netflix, connect with friends. Consider PlayNow’s voluntary short-term account lockout feature to help you take a break for anywhere from 24 hours to 14 days. Time away from gambling will let you reassess where you’re at and how you’re feeling.|
5. Be honest with yourself and how you're feeling
|Are you nervous or stressed about the idea of gambling? Are you risking money you really can’t afford to lose? Are you unable to stop when you’re down, and don’t want to stop if you’re ahead? Get real about how you’re feeling, and if you answered “yes” to any of these examples, get support.|
If you relate to some of the examples on this page, and you’re finding the strategies to take back control aren’t enough, it’s time to reach out. It’s the next step to help you avoid making decisions you’ll regret. Start here:
- Speak with a GameSense Advisor by calling 1-866-815-0222 or using the live chat function at PlayNow.com. GameSense Advisors can help you access any support you need. They are trained specialists who educate players about gambling, including strategies to make sure it stays fun, how to set time and budget limits, and how games work. Many players feel better equipped to make decisions about their gambling after connecting with a GameSense Advisor.
- Do an online self-assessment from the BC Responsible and Problem Gambling Program.
- Call the Gambling Support BC Line at 1-888-795-6111. It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with free information and resources to support informed choices and healthy behaviour related to gambling.
Resources for friends or family
If you think a close friend or family member is having trouble controlling their gambling, there are ways you can help. Visit our Resources for Families page to find out more.