When does gambling become a problem?
The Grand National is fast approaching, an event that the bookies and gamblers will be relishing, but there are those for whom it is just another opportunity for their betting to spiral into an even greater problem.
The big betting companies enjoy the boom in business that large events, meets and tournaments offer. An event such as the Grand National produces an inevitable jump in betting activity. Given this, those with a gambling problem can easily be lost in the flood, leading to difficulty in recognising those for whom gambling has become a problem.
There are many who gamble sensibly and responsibly, but at what point does it constitute a problem?
Gambling warning signs
It is important to see the patterns and be able to recognise the symptoms of a gambling addiction. To distinguish a gambling addict from a responsible gambler, it is necessary to know what to look for.
Gambling addiction symptoms can include:
Behavioural symptoms such as:
- A preoccupation with gambling
- Loss of interest in usual hobbies/pastimes
- Increase in money spent on bets
- Refusal to discuss the potential gambling problem
- Concealing money spent and lost
- Hiding financial worries
- Stealing money to gamble
- Social isolation
Emotional symptoms such as:
- Breakdown of relationships with loved ones
Physical symptoms such as:
- Stomach upsets
- Lack of sleep
How are the betting companies doing?
Despite a rise in taxes and a significant increase in gambling duties (such as a 15% duty on online betting), the UK's biggest betting firms reported strong 2015 figures. The UK's leading bookmaker, William Hill, reported a 22% decline in operating profits. However, when excluding the increase in duties and tax they posted a 2% increase, and they are confident they can continue to fulfil their growth strategy. Paddy Power also saw their revenue top £1billion for the first time. It seems the major UK betting companies are overcoming the challenges the market and legislation are producing and continuing to score successes.
With this in mind, the opportunities for gambling addicts to bet look more likely to proliferate than subside, particularly with projected investment in the digital side of the industry.
Gambling made easier with smartphone apps
Gambling on the go has become far easier with the rise of smartphone apps, and, through sponsorship and the heavy advertising campaigns run by firms such as Bet 365, Paddy Power and Betfair, amongst others, they are ever-present in media. As the range of markets expands, such as the ascendance of in-play betting, the opportunities to gamble are expanded too. The possibility of recouping any losses can be driven by the lure of easy-access betting. In-play betting is a prominent addition to football gambling, with sites such as Bet 365 funding heavy advertising during every interval of games.
Accessibility and anonymity for gamblers are at their peak, broadening the market for all and allowing problem gamblers to slip under the radar.