Tuesday 23 February 2021

Gambling Addiction: When Winning isn't Enough

We hear stories about gambling addiction. 

I guess it's a problem we don't consider too much unless we are stuck in that position or know a friend or a loved one who is literally at the mercy of their next bet. 

A compulsion they struggle to ignore or fall prey. 

Thankfully I have never had a problem with gambling addiction although I imagine a lot of people would probably be convinced I have. I don't bet for fun. In fact, I don't really like gambling full stop. It sounds a strange kind of happening. 

''So you make money from gambling-related websites and betting but it's really your thing?''

In truth, I see gambling as a high-level game of skill. For that to be the case, it has to be skill based rather than fixed odds, which, long term, cannot be beaten. Perhaps the exception to that thought being a skilled card counters at blackjack. 

A skill is a skill. 

You try playing a county chess player. 

They will make your average Joe look like a country bumpkin chewing on a carrot. 

It seems many gamblers have a problem. Within the world of psychology this is called a psychopathology. 

Gambling addition is an illness. It is a very strong compulsion to bet even when the punter knows it is a problem. 

I guess that is the nature of addiction. 

Denial, irrational, compulsion...

If you find you are waiting outside the bookmakers to play on the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (F.O.B.T.) then you may well have a problem. If you bet more than you can afford to lose. You are chasing your loses. 

Stop for a moment and question what you are doing.

I had my friend write an article and I embedded a YouTube Video titled: Gambling Addiction & Me: The Real Hustler (Full Documentary) Real Stories about Alexis Conran who explored gambling addiction in the light of his late father who went from a happy-go-lucky punter to a conman who was eventually imprisoned and sadly died of throat cancer while incarceration. 

The video is worth watching as it shows the truth of gambling addiction. 

Perhaps one of the saddest aspects of gambling addiction is that ''winning isn't enough'' and it is actually those near misses that get a gambler hooked on a dopamine adrenaline rush. Research has shown that the gambling addict's brain is basically wired differently from most. 

Conran chatted with a number of addicts who struggled to kick the habit. They varied from young and old, men and women. 

While in Las Vegas, he chatted to a couple who paid the price for their addiction. They lived in a storm drain under a road. Their clothes kept in a shopping cart in case it rained. The couple, in their 30 - 40s, had lived their for the past six months. They would wander round casinos hoping to get lucky by finding a chip on the floor or a few dollars left on a slot machine. If they found a few dollars the bloke would gamble it and hope to win enough to get the basics to survive. Their life was a perpetual hope of somehow winning enough money to get out of a life of despair accepting it was as much keeping them in a life of destitution. 

The man said it himself: ''It's a double-edged sword.''

He said he had gambled over a million dollars (gone through his hands, which is very different from losing a million).

It was a sorry state of affairs. 

The problem of anyone struggling with addiction is that they are likely to continue to fight their demons for the rest of time. 

Sadly, many addicts (and family members) lose their lives as a consequence of a very personal problem. 

For Alexis Conran this addiction cost him the love of his father from a very young age. He disappeared and left him and his mother probably feeling he was doing them a favour. 

Conran had battled with the loss of his father and questioned his interest in gambling to the point he was concerned he could be the same. 

He is far from an addict. 

However, the sadness of missing a life with his father and not having the opportunity to forgive him revealed the real loss of those to gambling addiction. 

A loss that so often is felt by all.

If you have a gambling problem, please find the strength to get help. 

The opportunity is life changing. 

Read our last post: Where Does a Successful Gambler Start?