The slide from recreational to problem gambling is a slow one – so if you’re feeling concerned that you (or a family member) are spending too much time at the slots or tables and, like many other South Africans, believe that the new year is a chance to start over, now might be a good time to start gambling more responsibly. Here are some tips from the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation(SARGF) to help you do just that.
- Set the scene.
It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve won or lost if you’ve enjoyed a few drinks while you’re gambling. It’s also easy to cover up your losses if you’re gambling alone. That’s why it’s best to gamble only if you’re with friends – this is, after all, supposed to be a fun, social activity – and to stay off the booze while you’re at it.
- Remember what gambling is…and what it isn’t.
Gambling isn’t a substitute for a job or a therapist. It’s not supposed to provide an alternative income stream. And it isn’t there to help you feel better when you’re bored or lonely. Rather, it’s intended as a form of entertainment. If you’re tempted turned to the casino because you’re going through a bad time, set a rule for yourself: gambling is only for those periods when you’re feeling happy and strong.
- Don’t gamble when you have a lot to lose.
We’ve all heard stories about people who have taken their last R50 to the casino – and left as millionaires. Those people are the exception to the rule. Remind yourself that gambling is only for those times when you can afford it – perhaps if you’ve been given cash as a birthday present, for example. To help enforce, set a limit on how much you’re prepared to spend (just as you’d set a budget if you were going out to eat). If you’re concerned that you won’t stick to the limit, set up a separate account where you keep your gambling money (and leave the withdrawal card at home so that you can’t access those funds). And never borrow money to gamble.
- One at a time
One machine, that is. If you’re playing several slots at once, it’s easy to forget how much you’ve spent.
- Keep perspective
There’s no denying that gambling is a great way to spend your time – but don’t get caught up in it. Maintain an interest in other hobbies and, when your time at the casino is getting too intense, take a break.
If you or anyone you know identifies with any – or all – of these characteristics, please don’t hesitate to call the toll-free SARGF counselling line on 0800 006 008.
Do not put off free treatment; the sooner you ask for help, the sooner the problem can be addressed.
More on SARGF
The SARGF is a non-profit company, a public-private initiative between Government and the gambling industry that is committed to promoting responsible gambling in South Africa. It provides sustainable, social solutions to the gambling industry.
The SARGF directs a number of activities related to responsible gambling, including integrated treatment and counselling, public awareness, education, and training and research.
The National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) under the pay-off line: ‘Winners Know When to Stop’ is an initiative of the SARGF. The Foundation works closely with operators, regulators and civil society, providing training to casino staff and operators to enable them to identify problem gamblers and direct them towards free treatment and counselling.
Facebook: South African Responsible Gambling Foundation
Toll Free counselling line – 0800 006 008
SMS line – 076 675 071