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Show me the money!

18th November 2016

Catherine tries to uncover whether a compulsion to gamble is really about money at all.

When one of our counsellors asks someone concerned about their gambling why they believe they gamble, the first answer is usually along the lines of ‘to win money’.

But is it really?

Especially when gambling starts to become problematic, and it may not only be affecting an individual’s welfare but those closest to them as well, what draws people to gambling?

Well, gambling can be fun. Many people across the globe participate regularly without it becoming a problem or impacting on other areas of their life. But if you start to experience a compulsion to gamble, it’s rarely about winning any more.

If it was just about the money, why is there an urge to pour any winnings back in to try again? What is gambling giving you that you can’t experience elsewhere?

Anecdotally, many people experiencing problems with gambling may say that they gamble because they are bored. In fact, they may be gambling to avoid boredom – they may be so afraid of what they experience when they aren’t occupied that they’ll even participate in something they recognise as harmful to avoid it. That could go for other risky activities too.

And the ‘buzz’ that people talk about, even when they lose (which is most of the time)? It could be part of the same dilemma. It may be possible to feel a buzz from other activities, but gambling might be the easier option – instead of thinking more deeply about the other areas of our lives where we are no longer finding enjoyment, and what that might mean for us.

GamCare counselling offers people the chance to explore the motivations for their gambling behaviour in a safe and confidential environment, so that they can understand their behaviour in context of life experiences and identify what they might want to change. Our counsellors work according to the client’s goals, whether that is to limit or control gambling behaviour, or stop altogether.

If you think that counselling may be right for you, find free local counselling with our interactive map or contact on of our specially trained Advisers through the National Gambling HelpLine.

Read more about why people gamble.