What does it mean to be a gambling addict?
When will this happen?
And what is the best way to make a game of it?
With that in mind, we asked casino pros to give us the scoop on how they’ve made their way through life.
The first step: get a gambling addiction diagnosis, so you can make a better game.
“I think it’s really important that people have a baseline understanding of what gambling addiction is before they try and tackle the addiction,” said Michael Lauer, who co-founded the gambling addiction research firm Lauer Consulting.
“The good news is that with a baseline, if they know what gambling is, they can understand how it affects their lives and their choices.”
The two most common ways to get a diagnosis of gambling addiction are through a structured clinical assessment and an interview with a mental health professional.
These are often conducted by trained professionals, and involve multiple sessions over the course of several months.
“The assessment usually takes anywhere from two to six weeks, but sometimes it’s much shorter, especially for younger adults,” Lauer said.
“You’re probably talking to a therapist or psychologist.
They’re often going to be asking you to describe your behavior in terms of your own history and your own expectations and expectations about how you want to spend your time and your money.”
It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what the game itself is, and the same is true for many other games.
“Some people will play games that are very similar, with a very similar theme, like a card game,” Lauers said.
For example, you might find a casino card game called Pictionary or PokerStars, which is a game where players draw random cards, and then shuffle them into a deck.
If you’re playing a slot machine, you may be playing a “chip-and-drop” game, in which a player bets $10 on a random number.
The best way for a player to identify what they are gambling on is to look at their daily spending.
Lauer advises against spending $100 or more per day on a game, because the odds of your winning are so small.
“There’s no way in hell you’re going to win $100 on a $100 slot machine,” he said.
Instead, Lauer recommends focusing on what your favorite casino games have in common.
“If they have similar themes, like Pictionary, they’re probably gambling on the same cards,” he added.
“But if they have a theme that’s different, like PokerStars or slot machines, they probably aren’t.”
This can be a challenging task, but Lauer’s advice can help with the rest of the diagnosis.
“Your counselor can give you some suggestions,” he explained.
“They can tell you what to expect, and how to think about your gambling behavior.
Then, your psychiatrist will come in and help you with that.”
If your therapist doesn’t know what to look for, you can call the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which is responsible for collecting information about the gambling brain and developing treatments for it.
If the NIMH doesn’t have enough information, it will call the gambling addict for more information.
“Then, your treatment team will go to your doctor to give you a diagnosis and a prescription for the drug that you’re using,” Lofer said.
There are other resources available to help the gaming addict navigate their gambling addiction, like the online gaming forum, the National Council on Problem Gambling.
And some doctors and addiction specialists have taken to the internet in an attempt to educate players about what gambling means to them.
“There are some forums where people talk about the game, what it’s like to play, and other stuff that may not be so helpful,” said Dr. Michael Kost, the clinical director of the Addiction Research Program at Yale University.
“A lot of people will look at it from a medical standpoint, but then they can say, ‘What is this really about?’
And that’s a really bad place to be.”
The goal of any treatment is to help players learn to recognize and address their addiction, and to reduce the risk of relapse, Kost added.
“It’s important that they’re comfortable talking about it, and they’re not afraid to discuss it,” he pointed out.
“When you have an addiction, you’re always going to talk about it.”
To find out more about the importance of gaming addiction, watch the video above for an overview of some of the best casino games for the uninitiated.