5 myths about gambling addiction

Gambling is often seen as a harmless form of entertainment, but what happens when it stops being fun? 

Gambling problems can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety as well as the obvious negative financial impact. Here are 5 myths about gambling addiction, and the truth behind them. 

  1. Gambling isn’t a problem, I can stop whenever I want 

It’s true that some people can gamble occasionally without it becoming a problem. But this shouldn’t be considered the norm. A Guardian report from 2020 found that betting operators took on average 60% of their income from just 5% of customers.  

Some people believe they have complete control over their gambling habits, but gambling is designed to be highly addictive, especially when it comes to casino games or online betting. Companies offer promotions to lure you back in, and the line between casual and problem gambling can blur.  

This makes it crucial to recognise signs of gambling problems: becoming obsessed with gambling, needing to gamble more and more to get the same thrill, trying to win back money you’ve lost, lying about or trying to hide your gambling, and feeling restless or irritable when you try and cut back. 

  1. Gambling is a great way of making money 

The sad truth about gambling is that the only one truly making money is the gambling operator. Games are designed to favour the ‘house’, and gambling is always a risk. People out to make their fortune are often influenced by stories of people hitting a big jackpot, but what these feel-good stories don’t show is how much they lost before striking lucky. 

  1. If you keep playing, you’ll win eventually 

This is a common thought among people with gambling problems and is known as the gambler’s fallacy. You might think you’re owed a big win after losing several bets, but that’s not how it works: you can’t predict when you’ll win. Each gamble is separate and the odds remain constant. Chasing a win like this can make financial problems worse. 

  1. Gambling is a matter of skill 

You might think that following sports closely or being in on tips means you’re more skilled than the average Joe, but in reality gambling is never about skill. Sure, your knowledge about sport may mean you can make a more informed bet, but sports events are unpredictable and no bettor can account for the many variables at play. You might get lucky on one or two bets, but consistent success isn’t going to happen. 

  1. Treatment for gambling problems is ineffective 

There are several ways you can get in control of your gambling problem, and they can be extremely effective. Some solutions put a stop to gambling completely, for example by blocking access to gambling websites and apps, or by blocking gambling transactions. You might be offered talking therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps to change your thinking patterns. Support groups and helplines are also effective at supporting people with gambling problems break their gambling habits.