“I can stop any time I like, I just don’t want to“
We hear this all the time, from people who smoke a pack of twenty cigarettes a day to those who just can’t lay off the latte’s. Addictions can vary from the physical, like becoming alcohol dependent; to the psychological, where we start to believe we can’t function without a bottle of wine. Sometimes we can develop mental addictions to activities we enjoy, but what’s the difference between a healthy activity you participate in during your free time and a crippling addiction?
Gambling is something that everyone can suffer a mental addiction to, and a lot of the time you won’t see it coming until the problem has already hit you. But is there a middle ground between a hobby and an addiction, or can you only be one or the other?
Well for a start, a hobby is defined as ‘an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.’ – Oxford University Dictionary. Now a lot of you will be thinking “That sounds like me”, and you’re probably right.
Next, an addiction is labelled as ‘the state of being enslaved to a practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.’ – Oxford University Dictionary. Again, you’re probably thinking “That definitely isn’t me”, which we hope is the case.
Hobby or Addiction?
There is some grey area in between these two, however it’s a very thin line that you have to careful with, otherwise you might cross it without even noticing. This grey area can be recognised as a habit, which is the middle ground between a hobby and an addiction. You can easily tell what stage you’re in by the way you bet.
If you’ve just heard about a bet that you feel confident about and then decide to place a small amount of money on it, you have a hobby.
If you’re checking the bookies every morning like clockwork to see what bets are available, you’ve got a habit.
If you’re constantly checking your phone and the internet for new bets and are constantly placing wagers on games you don’t even care about, you’ve got an addiction.
As you’ve probably guessed, a habit is only a step away from an addiction, which is not where you want to be. However there are a lot more people who would be considered to gamble as a past time than there are who would be seen to have a gambling problem. A lot of online bookmakers will also offer help to anyone who even thinks they might have a problem, so whilst nobody actually wants a gambling addiction, there is always help available to those who might need it.
I Take Advantage Of Casino’s Offers, Am I Addicted?
Put simply, probably not. But people might show concern for you.
The reason that this has become such a problem recently is that the definitions are changing because of In-play betting. Before you could tell if someone was addicted as they would go out their way to place wagers every day. However, because of In-play betting, you can easily place several bets in one day with little struggle. Dr Mark Griffiths, professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham University, has said “You cannot become addicted to something unless you are constantly being rewarded. If the reward only happens once or twice a week, it’s impossible to become addicted. In-play has changed that.”
Because of In-play betting being so accessible and simple to use, it can make people who are merely able to enjoy their hobby anywhere and anytime look like they have an addiction. This is probably not the case though. If you’re just making sure that you don’t miss out on an offer that applies to you, then you’re making the most of your hobby. The signs to look out for are more extravagant than that.
Another thing to remember is something that Allen Moody from Sports Gambling Guide has said:
“If your sports betting winnings or losses are going to change the quality of your lifestyle, you’re probably betting too much.”
If you just stay sensible with your bets and wagers, then you’ll never have to fear becoming addicted to gambling. At the same time it’s still best to keep your wits about you, don’t hide your hobby, let people know about it; otherwise it looks like you’re trying to hide something from your friends and those close to you.
Play Safely And Sensibly
For most things in life the key is moderation, this includes gambling (along with drinking and smoking, which are things that you may enjoy whilst betting). No one’s going to deny you your favourite past time, as long as it remains a hobby. Always remember to spend time with your friends and others that are close to you, take regular breaks and set yourself a certain amount of time to play each day.
Always be aware of whether you’re playing for fun or because you feel like you should be, if you’re not playing for enjoyment anymore, you may need to quit betting for a while until you find the entertainment in it again. If you need any more convincing, read some of these gambling addiction stories and see the damage it can cause for yourself.
Apart from that, enjoy gambling as much as you want. As long as it remains fun for you then there’s no reason you to stop, just be aware of how much money you can spend and don’t alienate the people around you!
Read more about: Betting | The Fine Line Between A Hobby And An Addiction