Gambling can be fun. Who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of a big win? But as exhilarating as it can be, betting can also be harmful. After all, you are putting your money at risk. Research has also shown that gambling can lead to addictive behaviour in some people. So you need to be careful and make sure you gamble responsibly.

What is compulsive gambling?
Compulsive gambling, also known as gambling disorder, is a condition in which a person feels an uncontrollable need to continue gambling to the detriment of their mental, physical or financial health. In much the same way that people suffering from substance abuse struggle to resist their urges, compulsive gamblers find it difficult to stay away from casinos, even when they no longer have the time or money to continue gambling. It is a serious condition that can jeopardise your mental and physical health and significantly affect your relationships with others.

Why is gambling addictive?
According to medical research, winning money at casino games stimulates the brain’s reward response. This can lead to the release of dopamine, which makes you feel happy. So while gambling does not cause physical dependence like alcohol or drugs, it can be psychologically addictive. People with a gambling disorder become dependent on the release of happy hormones that come from winning, and continue to seek this feeling even when conditions are not favourable.

The symptoms of compulsive gambling
It is important to learn the warning signs of compulsive gambling before playing casino games. Knowing how to recognise potentially harmful behaviour patterns can help you play more responsibly. You will be in a better position to resolve the problem before it becomes overwhelming and return to enjoying your gambling.

Although symptoms can vary and not all people experience everything on this list, you should be aware of these early signs of possible compulsive gambling:

A compulsive need to keep gambling, even after consecutive losses or when the odds are against you;
Problems keeping commitments at work or home, such as being late, missing deadlines or appointments, etc;
Losing interest in other activities and hobbies that you used to enjoy;
Getting into more conflicts with friends and family, relationship problems;
Feeling the need to lie or misrepresent how much time or money you spend gambling;
Low mood, increased anxiety, stomach problems, trouble sleeping, and more.
This list is not exhaustive, but it may give you an idea of how to recognise if you or a loved one may be struggling with a gambling addiction. If you think this may be the case, please consult the following resources: