It is very important to eliminate the confusion that appear in time with regards to addiction to gambling and the addiction to forbidden substances and alcohol. The three categories even imply different treatment methods.
The problems related to gambling are not of the same nature as substance addictions
In the Romanian public space, problems related to excessive gambling are often closely akin to drug or alcohol addiction. While drug and alcohol addictions are addictions with a cause status, as they generate for the individual an addiction to several chemical substances, gambling addiction is, in fact, an effect. The effect of emotional problems which already exist and are not approached by the person that manifests said issues in daily life. Here we refer to issues such as auto-control disorders, various emotional problems, dysfunctional couple relationships or professional shortcomings and failures.
The most frequent already existing issues come from anxiety, depression and personality disorders. In such cases, the person is tempted to escape these issues and interpret winnings as a victory which shall compensate the emotional lacks. However, the after-win euphoria passes quickly, the need of a new victory once again settling in. This is the reason for which, psychologists who specialize in such issues end up treating another type of issue and not gambling addiction. Gambling addiction is based on another type of behavior, different from that of substance addiction.
There are international studies which show that excessive gambling is not similar to alcohol or forbidden substances addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, was used the term “substance disorders” to describe the diagnostic categories for issues related to alcohol and other substances. Within the same manual, issues relating to gambling are called pathological gambling, classified under the term of “impulse control disorders”. Moreover, the issues faced by a gambler are completely different from those who manifest drug addiction. “They can be included within a softer category as they are based on a different type of behavior. They do not require hospitalization and are completely reversible. The latest assessments of individuals suffering from gambling issues show that they do not accept to be mixed in with other categories of addicts and they shall not participate to recovery programs which are commonly shared with substance dependent persons. Concurrently, the degree of voluntary participation of these individuals is highly important. It is necessary that they auto-evaluate themselves, that hey have access to more information, to alternatives, support and a quality ambiance” claims dr. Cristian Andrei, physician and psychotherapist, expert and ambassador of Responsible Gambling Program.
Gambling is and should remain, regardless of daily life events, just a means of entertainment. When control is exceeded, the problematic game occurs, associated to negative emotional states. And the consequences are important financial losses or deterioration of family or friend relationships. A behavior indicator which shows that the individual has crossed the line is represented by the fact that he/she plays to win back the money lost, plays amounts that grow larger and larger, borrows money or hides from his/her family.
“Responsible Game”, the most effective prevention, identification and assistance program for players with gambling issues in Romania, addresses this type of addiction and is on the front line of raising awareness and promoting a responsible attitude among players and the entire Romanian industry. “Responsible Game” has offices in Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Constanta and Craiova, with a team of psychologist specialized in treating gambling addiction. An online platform is also available, www.jocresponsabil.ro, on which the player who believes he/she might have an issue can take a test with an auto-assessment questionnaire and then, if necessary, he/she may contact a psychologist by means of e-mail or the free hot-line 0800 800 099.
The role of gambling operators, essential to respecting the practice of a responsible game
It is important that players understand that gambling is only a means of entertainment, not a means to making money, however, it is just as important that operators send players the message that, when they enter these locations, they are doing it to have fun and spend the money they can afford to lose.
With regards to the “Responsible Game” program and the importance of social responsibility, the team that coordinated this program has launched, in time, and by means of our magazine, several messages for the unity of the industry and compliance to this need. Responsibility is the mission of an entire industry which must be assumed and promoted as such by all of its actors.
As such, we once again bring to the attention of the profile company the set of responsibility principles proposed by the “Responsible Game” team:
- Promote your activity as a means of entertainment, not as a means to make money!
- Allocate human resources for the company generation and implication in social responsibility and client protection actions. Ensure a budget for this!
- Constantly train your staff with regards to the most recent practices relating to ensuring the client’s responsible perspective with regards to gambling.
- Offer the client limited services or connected gambling facilities that might encourage excess!
- Constantly and directly inform your clients with regards to excessive gambling and how to treat gambling issues.
- Make sure you identify players with issues correctly and in time!
- Act immediately when you have identified a player with issues.
- Cooperate with the family when applicable, as to help the player with the issues more effectively.
- Make sure that underage persons are prohibited from entering the gaming hall!
- Always search for the partnership with the authorities and the benevolent participation to action targeting social responsibility.