Don’t let gambling addiction affect your festive season negatively


The festive season is a time filled with fun and family gatherings, however for those experiencing or recovering from a gambling problem, it’s also a season full of temptations.

The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation says in a statement that most people who engage in it, gambling is a harmless leisure activity that may yield public benefits such as contribution to government taxes/levies, employment opportunities and tourism. For some people who gamble responsibly it is relaxing and has no impact on their lives.

“However, a study conducted by the foundation in 2011 shows that about 3% of the population are considered to be problem gamblers and 0.5% are living with addiction. Problem gambling is often referred to as the hidden addiction. Unlike other addictions, problem gamblers do not display physical signs.

“There are no “card marks” on their arms, no ‘roulette breath’, no ‘dice eyes’, and no saturation point. While visible symptoms are minimal, problem gamblers often experience feelings of depression, anxiety, guilt and may have suicidal thoughts. They often neglect family and friends, run up large amounts of debt, and may be involved in illegal activity in order to fund their addiction,” says the foundation.

The foundation urges the public to gamble wisely and responsibly during this festive season. Here are some responsible gambling tips to keep the games fun:

  • Budget very carefully: By ensuring that you know exactly how much you have to spend, it becomes much easier to simply draw that amount of money in cash, and to leave your credit card at home and out of reach of temptation.
  • Stay social! Gambling alone is usually one of the signs of addiction.
  • If you want to know how to gamble responsibly, allocate a certain amount of time in the casino to avoid overspending.
  • Don’t ‘chase’ losses by gambling more.
  • Have realistic expectations of what gambling will accomplish – it will not help you pay your debts and bills, but it will provide a few hours of fun.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol when gambling, as it impairs decision-making and can lead to overspending.
  • Keep a separate account for gambling money, so that it cannot be drawn from your main account and so that it is easier to keep track of your spending.
  • Always play only one machine at a time – playing multiple machines at once is bound to cause overspending.
  • Don’t borrow money to gamble – as the saying goes, “Don’t play with money you don’t have.”
  • Gamble during the good times – when you feel positive and happy, rather than during difficult times. When depressed, angry, or under pressure, gambling becomes a high-risk situation.

“The Choices we make are ultimately our responsibility, choose to gamble responsibly,” says the foundation.