Visiting a casino is an exciting change, a possibility to relax in a different environment. Unfortunately this does not apply to everybody: for some persons a pleasant pass-time can turn into overwhelming – compulsive gambling.
Most people play reasonably
Psychologists say that about 5 percent of the population has some kind of addiction. Among these five percent are also the compulsive gamblers – although far less than alcoholics, for example. Majority of gamblers visits casinos less than ten times a year and is able to fully control his/her gambling; the percentage of compulsive gamblers among the frequent visitors of casinos is according to different surveys 5-10 percents.
Compulsive gambling is an illness
Compulsive gambling is an emotional illness, which can be diagnosed and treated. This illness has usually three phases – winning phase (1-3 years), in the second phase a gambler looses everything, loans money for winning back the money and loses also the loaned money. In the third phase 90% of the gamblers breaks the law in order to finance his/her passion. A compulsive gambler cannot be taken as an unmoral or stupid person who is not willing to stop – we are dealing with an unlucky person whose wish to gamble has become uncontrollable.
A compulsive gambler lives for gambling
When a gambler becomes a compulsive gambler? Compulsive gambler’s private life suffers because of his/her gambling passion. In order to determine compulsive gambling, there exist simple tests evaluating the symptoms of compulsivity. An illness can be detected by the person’s inability to stop gambling; loaning money to finance gambling; viewing money not as a tool for living but for gambling; changes in gambler’s character; lying and secrecy; regretting gambling and being ashamed of gambling; risking with work, family, important relationship, etc. because of gambling.
In order to avoid getting addicted to gambling, casinos recommend setting certain limits. If a person is already addicted a casino can help only those gamblers who wish to be helped – e.g. a Finnish gambler can write an application according to which he/she is not permitted to the casino’s premises. It is very difficult to get rid of the addiction and a compulsive gambler should look for specialists’ help: compulsive gambling is treated also by Estonian psychologists and psychiatrists. Support from family and friends is also very important because very often the compulsive gambler is too shy to turn for professional help.
Prohibiting is not a solution
Experience shows that prohibiting gambling only deepens the compulsive gambling-related problems. Thus the idea of responsible gambling is promoted all over the world. Stress is laid on informing people about the dangers accompanying gambling, support groups (gamblers anonymous) for gamblers are created, organizations dealing with avoiding and decreasing the risks of gambling are founded. Majority of these organizations support legal gambling and try to offer the pleasure of gambling for a wide circle of people by carrying out informative and preventive work.
Register of self-denied persons
Pursuant to Article 4¹ of the Law on Gambling and Lotteries, a natural person has the right to request in writing that he or she be prohibited from gambling in the Republic of Latvia, including interactive gambling, participating in interactive lotteries, and be included in the register of self-denied persons.
From 1 January 2020, a natural person may submit a request in person in writing to the Inspection, in person in writing at the gaming venue using the link available on the interactive gambling and interactive lottery organisers' websites to the inspection website's prohibition request section, or remotely electronically using electronic identification means for authentication. Read more info here: https://www.iaui.gov.lv/lv/component/content/article/2-uncategorised/261-pasatteikusos-personu-registrs
Where to seek help.
At the Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection, you can receive individual consultations and apply for a support group for gambling players. The support group is led by a certified psychologist-consultant. Consultations and group membership are free. Read more info here: https://www.iaui.gov.lv/images/Psihologiskais_atbalsts/Psihologiska_palidziba_azartspelu_speletajiem-web.pdf
Where to get help
State Narcology Agency
Department of Minnesota Programme
Phone: +371 67456900
Riga Centre for Prevention of Addictions
Phone: +371 67037313
Helpline: +371 67037333
Phone: +371 29738121
Some websites dedicated to compulsive gambling: