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Staying in control

12th August 2016

Catherine looks at some practical tips which can help you stay in control during major sporting events like the Olympic Games.

If you are actively trying to stop or control your betting, it can be incredibly hard to move past urges to gamble on major sporting events. Betting will for many be a part of the fun of watching sport, but we know that many will also struggle if gambling has become a problem.

When a big event gets lots of coverage it can feel as if temptation is around every corner, but there are plenty of ways to find support and either control your gambling or stay gamble-free.

If you feel like you need to take a break from watching sport for a while, that’s ok. If you talk to the people close to you about what you’re experiencing, they will understand.

It can be hard to open up to someone at first, if everything feels like a jumble going around in your head, but it will be worth it.

If you look for patterns in your behaviour, you may be able to figure out what triggers you to want to gamble. Do you gamble, or need to gamble, when you feel bored, stressed or under pressure?

If you can put your finger on this, you can try to schedule other activities during the times when you’re most likely to gamble, or make sure you’re with someone you trust to help you stay in control.

If you feel strong enough, consider writing your feelings down in a diary. If you are not gambling, note how you are feeling and how you have coped. If you have gambled, think about the events that led up to this and record your feelings before, during and after. You can also check out our Forums to share your experiences, find support and support others.

If you have a ‘slip’, do not punish yourself. Instead, reflect on the day and think about what you have learnt from it. Be optimistic – you can overcome a gambling dependency.

Take it one day at a time, and be prepared for it to be difficult. If you don’t feel you can confide in a friend or loved one, you can talk to one of our HelpLine Advisers for emotional support. You may also consider joining a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous.

GamCare counselling provides a safe, confidential space for you to talk about your situation, explore the causes of your gambling behaviour and the effects it has on your life.

If you do gamble on events like the Olympics, remember that there are tools available to you to help you stay in control, including setting deposit limits, taking regular breaks and time-outs (specifying a short timeframe for an online operator to block access to your account).

It’s important not to chase your losses. Set a budget for how much money you can afford to spend on gambling – yes, how much you would be ok losing. Trying to win back this money will generally lead to even bigger losses, financially or otherwise.

You may want to think about self-exclusion, or installing blocking software on your devices. Read more about these here.

Remember, take it one day at a time.