Guide on the topic of gambling addiction.

With the increasing popularity of online real money gambling in recent years, the number of opponents and critics warning of a significant increase in gambling addicts and demonizing the system has also grown. On the flip side, enthusiasts of online gaming have always been quick to downplay the dangers. Gambling is and will always be a contentious topic. Unfortunately, objective reporting is rarely seen. However, gambling addiction is a topic that must be taken seriously. But does an open, regulated gambling market particularly promote gambling addiction, as gambling opponents in Ireland and worldwide claim? Or is online poker not even a typical game that easily leads to gambling addiction? takes a comprehensive look at the topic of gambling addiction and answers questions like "What is gambling addiction?", "What are typical symptoms?", "What do online poker providers do to combat gambling addiction?" and "What can I do if I suspect I am addicted to gambling?"

Definition: gambling addiction?

The colloquial term "gambling addiction" actually refers to "pathological" or "compulsive" gambling. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies this pathological gambling as part of "abnormal habits and impulse control disorders." Such a disorder occurs when gambling is pursued so frequently and repeatedly that it dominates the person's entire life and has a negative impact on their social life, career, health, and family. The individual is then unable to resist the impulse to gamble or bet. In order for medical professionals to diagnose pathological gambling, they look for multiple negative gambling events over a period of at least one year.

The following patterns of thinking are characteristic of individuals with gambling addiction: money holds a special significance for the gambler; a competitive mindset; a strong desire for social validation; workaholism; and the frequent occurrence of stress-induced psychosomatic illnesses. Excessive gambling among manic patients and those with antisocial personality disorder is not considered gambling addiction. In these cases, gambling is a symptom of the underlying issue.

Symptoms of gambling addiction

It can be challenging to detect outward changes in a person struggling with gambling addiction. For both the individual affected and those around them, it is often difficult to assess when or if an addiction is developing. However, certain behaviors can serve as indicators of pathological gambling:

  • A person neglects their personal environment and often lacks time.
  • He often borrows money from his family or circle of friends.
  • He is unreliable and suffers from mood swings.
  • He wants to keep his gaming behavior a secret and relies on little white lies to do so.
  • For instance, he spends an excessive amount of time on the computer or at casinos.
  • He has an irresistible desire to always have to play again.
  • Once he starts playing, he can't stop.
  • He only finds satisfaction by constantly raising the stakes in his gameplay.
  • Without his game, he becomes irritable and restless.
  • In the most extreme scenario, he even attempts to acquire money through illegal means.

What measures do poker websites take to combat gambling addiction?

At all secure, reputable, and trustworthy online poker sites, the issue of gambling addiction is taken very seriously. The providers assist their customers in responsibly engaging in gambling through various measures. These include, for example, self-assessments or concrete assistance offers. As for the assistance offers, the providers are members of organizations such as GamCare, ADICTEL, GambleAware, the Interactive Gaming Council, or Gambling Therapy. On the websites, players have access to a range of questions on gambling addiction for self-assessment. If they answer multiple questions with "Yes," the provider will redirect them to partner organizations specializing in "Responsible Gaming." There, they can seek help from experts.

In addition, providers offer their customers the opportunity to self-exclude from playing for various lengths of time. These self-exclusion periods must and can be set by customers themselves in the respective poker software. Furthermore, access to poker sites is prohibited for minors. Players opening a new account with an online poker room must confirm that they are at least 18 years old. Anyone who violates this rule will forfeit all claims to their winnings and may also face criminal prosecution. Technical verification systems and the installation of filtering software are intended to prevent minors from accessing poker sites. Additionally, the staff of these sites are trained to identify compulsive or underage players and can take appropriate measures.

Where can gambling addicts find help in Ireland?

If you are concerned about being addicted to gambling and need assistance, it is best to reach out to a specialized counseling center. You can search for nearby counseling centers on the website, which belongs to the corresponding professional association. This association consists of researchers, physicians, lawyers, psychotherapists, addiction therapists, support groups, counseling centers, and rehabilitation facilities. On the site, players can also download an application to self-exclude themselves from casinos in one or more specific federal states. Furthermore, provides a counseling hotline and an online forum for individuals to exchange experiences with others affected by gambling addiction. Visitors will also find links to other websites that address the topic of gambling addiction. The offering is complemented by numerous articles, studies, concepts, recommendations, and forms related to the issue of gambling addiction.

If "pathological" or "compulsive gambling" is diagnosed, individuals with a gambling addiction can choose between outpatient or inpatient treatment, depending on the severity of the condition. A crucial aspect of therapy typically involves complete abstinence from gambling. It is essential for the patient to collaborate with their physicians in developing a relapse prevention plan.